New immigration committee aims to help immigrants feel safer, as more swear in as U.S. citizens

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150 new American citizens took the oath Friday morning in a ceremony meant to honor children of naturalized citizens, as well as adoptees from out of the country. Some expressed relief to have their citizenship, as talks on immigration and border security remain contentious. This as an effort in Fresno aims to help immigrants feel safer here in the Central Valley.

The ceremony was hosted by the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute and presented by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fresno field office. The youngest new citizen is 2, while the oldest is 30.

It’s been a long road for Nancy Bermudez Martinez, she first came to the country when she was 10 months old from Mexico.

“I finally decided to take a leap of faith,” she said.

Taking the Oath of Allegiance and getting her citizenship documents was definitely exciting, but as exciting as it was the moment really was a sigh of relief. That’s because on the national level, talks on immigration and border security have had Martinez and others concerned.

“Taking this step made me feel positive and [know] at least nothing’s going to happen to me. I can know I’ll be here for my kids and my fiance,” she said.

Mi Familia Vota’s California state director, Samuel Molina, said locally, immigrants– particularly in Fresno — will have a better way to express their concerns. On Thursday, Fresno City Council approved the formation of an immigrant affairs committee.

Its staffing and exact goals are still being determined, but Molina said it’s going to create a much-needed bridge for immigrants.

“Regardless of what goes on at the national level, we have to harness our power as individuals and as citizens of our cities and our state,” Molina said. “To make sure that our elected officials, at least at the local level, are representing us.”

Fresno City Council and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand will appoint 15 members to that committee.

Some new citizens at the ceremony shared they weren’t too worried about recent immigration talks.

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