SAN DIEGO — The coronavirus pandemic has forced Americans to become creative, with drive-thru ceremonies for weddings and graduations becoming more common.
More than 150 people from 42 countries were naturalized Wednesday morning in San Diego in a drive-thru ceremony hosted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Normally, naturalization ceremonies involve hundreds of new citizens and their family members, but the pandemic forced postponements from March 18 through June 4, the newspaper reported.
“I cannot explain how I feel now. I’ve been waiting for a long time. I studied and studied and now my dream came true,” Jose Carlos Magos, who was born in Guatemala and has lived in the United States for 30 years, told KNSD.
Madeline Kristoff, a field office director for USCIS, told The Union-Tribune that more than 2,740 people whose ceremonies were postponed will be sworn in through the end of June.
Mohsin Javed, an information technology worker who was born in Pakistan, said he been working toward becoming a U.S. citizen for 10 years.
“I’m really proud to be an American now,” Javed told The Union-Tribune after taking his oath from the driver’s seat of his vehicle. “I’m really excited that now I can vote.”
Some of the new citizens took advantage of the drive-thru idea to become Americans in style.
Grant Madden, who came to the U.S. from Australia 15 years ago, rented a red 2020 Chevrolet Camaro for Wednesday’s ceremony, The Union-Tribune reported. Madded said he wanted to become an American in an American-made car.
“While it’s a drive-thru, it’s about as American as it can get,” Madden told the newspaper.