DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Thousands of people from more than 100 countries were sworn in as new U.S. citizens Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles, where they were welcomed by a newly recorded message from President Donald Trump.
Some had waited decades to officially recite the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.
"It feels great. It feels like another big accomplishment," said Gerardo Stumpf, who came to the U.S. when he was 6 years old.
Sarah Jeffries described the naturalization ceremony as "a little bit overwhelming."
"It's very emotional and it's a long time coming for me and my husband," she said.
In his videotaped welcome message, President Trump told the new citizens: "No matter where you come from or what faith you practice, this country is now your country."
Wednesday's event occurred amid a national debate over immigration, Trump's proposed border wall, and the legal status of "dreamers."
"Everybody's situation is different, so it's hard for me to judge other people," said new U.S. citizen Carsten Lindberg.
After standing in long lines and filling out reams of paperwork, some would like to see everyone receive the same privilege.
"I believe everyone should do it the right way, the legal way," said new citizen Cassandra Tan. "Of course, I have a lot of sympathy for people who are looking to the freedom as such that we're enjoying in the United States here. I just wish them all the best."