Diane Gray was beaming and full of pride Thursday morning as she waived a miniature American flag.
"I got it!," she said to a crowded room in a University of Nevada, Reno auditorium. "I got it!"
Gray, along with 32 others from 13 nations, was presented a certificate of naturalization, marking years of work to gain U.S. citizenship.
"I'm going to be here the rest of my life and I want to vote," the 53-year-old Canadian-born grandmother said. "I like the United States and I want to be a part of the processes and vote. I want to make a difference.
"I'm just like y'all now," she said and raised her arms in triumph. "This is really something that no words can describe. It's awesome."
Now, Gray said she is going to register to vote and apply for her passport.
The day was special for another reason. It was Citizenship Day, marked for the remembrance of the signing of the Constitution in 1787. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reno Field Office Director Monica Toro said naturalization ceremonies on Citizenship Day has become a new tradition across the nation, 2009 being the second year.
From the Associated Press, on yesterday's citizenship grants announcement:
Federal Immigration officials on Thursday awarded a Dallas group and 12 other organizations around the country $1.2 million in grants to help legal residents become U.S. citizens.
Citizenship and Immigration Services awarded $100,000 to Catholic Charities Immigration and Legal Services. It wasn't immediately clear how much money was awarded to the other groups, but the agency said they could apply for up to $100,000.
The announcement coincided with Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
The agency said the money goes to increase the number of people served by programs that help green card holders improve their English skills, learn about U.S. history and government, and prepare for the naturalization process.
The funds can only be used to provide direct services to immigrants with legal status in the country.
From the Associated Press, on a new CBP commander in Grand Forks:
The Border Patrol sector in Grand Forks has a new commander.Rosa Nelly
Hernandez will supervise 180 people who help protect the U.S.-Canadian border.
Border Patrol officials say Hernandez is the first woman to command the Grand Forks sector and third woman chief in the history of the Border Patrol.
Hernandez, who's a San Antonio native, was installed at a Wednesday airport ceremony that included members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a bagpipe and drum corps.
She asked for help from border agents and the community, saying, "Whether you are a farmer or in law enforcement, help us secure our homeland."
Hernandez said the Border Patrol will become more intelligence-based. She said officials plant to put three agents in each of five communities in North Dakota, six communities in Minnesota and one in Ashland, Wis.
No public events today