128 new U.S. citizens celebrate in Southport


SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — Fourth of July weekend 128 people from all over the world became American citizens.

Lillian Akinyi Tolo came to this country from Kenya in 1998 and this Fourth of July weekend she is becoming an American citizen.

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“It’s one of the greatest country’s to live in,” said Tolo. “I’m really really excited because this is a special occasion. I get to officially become a U.S. Citizen.”

Jay Weselmann, Field Office Director with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in Durham, says now the new citizens can legally vote.

“The main difference between yesterday and today for these new citizens is that they can vote and that’s the most important change when you become a citizen,” said Weselmann.

But this experience is about more than just being able to cast a ballot.

Lisa Woodley and her family moved to the United States from Canada in 2001. And since Woodley is becoming a citizen that means her teenage son Lucas will too.

“I’ve been very proud to be here, I love this country and having the option of having a naturalization ceremony happen on a regular random day versus the Fourth of July where we are celebrating independence and it’s a very festive occasion to me it’s very fitting,” said Woodley.

For these citizens America has been home for years. Now they have all the rights people born here have plus a continued appreciation for the opportunity.

“We love America. We love the states. This is our home,” said Woodley.