What better time than the fourth of July to become a new U.S. citizen? That’s the thinking of 155 people who took the Oath of Citizenship in a Phoenix ceremony Monday morning. The newly sworn in Americans, who come from 48 countries, were given their naturalization certificates. After the

ceremony, they were able to register to vote and sign up for passports.

A proud Nick Weingartz welled up at the realization of his new found status, certificate in hand. The South African native says the accomplishment means “everything” to him. “It’s awesome. I’m so blessed to be here,”, says Weingartz, “because this is my future. This is my country.”

It’s also a special day for Officer Omar Al-Mahwashi with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Although he works for immigration hard-liner Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff lauds his achievement. “I’m speechless. I can’t really explain how I feel,” says Al-Mahawashi. “I’m so proud of myself. I’m so proud to be part of this country.” Al-Mahwashi served time in the U.S. Army before embarking on become a U.S. citizen.

The new citizens hail from 48 different countries, including Romania, Columbia, China, Sierra Leone, Australia and Mexico, to name a few. The July fourth Naturalization ceremony is an annual tradition at South Mountain Community College in South Phoenix. Other ceremonies occurred Monday at Chase Field and in Mesa.