80 Northern Californians Sworn in as U.S. Citizens

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SACRAMENTO -- Thursday as part of Citizenship Day -- celebrated every year on September 17 -- 80 northern Californians were sworn in as United State citizens.

Their stories, their background and their native languages may all be different.  But starting today, these people share one thing -- they are all Americans.

Eighty people representing 27 countries became naturalized citizens at a ceremony in Sacramento.

"Immigrants becoming citizens is as American and as patriotic as it gets," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.

Seven years ago, Armando Martinez came to the Unites State as a refugee from Colombia who wanted to escape violence and danger.

"It's the only country where you can make a story like mine, happen," Martinez said.

Once here, he decided to do good.

He learned English, got a fire science degree and now -- at age 31 -- he is a fire fighter-paramedic for the Mountain View Fire Department.

"A lot of hard work, sweat and tears behind basically getting the piece of paper right here," Martinez said.

For Xochitl Hernandez this has been a journey 16 years in the making.

"My mom and I went through a lot," Hernandez said.

In 2001, the 31-year-old and her mother left Mexico because of an abusive relationship.

They crossed the border illegally with the help of smugglers or coyotes. But, that decision didn’t lead to freedom. The smugglers used them to clean homes, but never paid them. The two got the chance to run away and then start a new life.

"Thank God we found this beautiful country that gave us the opportunity to be here," Hernandez said.

As a former undocumented resident, Hernandez is troubled by the DACA decision and the confusion that has followed.

"As long as they continue going to school, to care about contributing to this country, I think they deserve to have an opportunity to be here," Hernandez said.

An opportunity Hernandez says has changed her life.

"No words to describe how happy I am. And how grateful. This country has given me a lot," Hernandez said.