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Elementary school students witness naturalization ceremony

Reported by: Fatima Rahmatullah
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Updated: 5/15 12:46 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- A class of fourth and fifth-grade students from Staton Elementary School got a civics lesson Wednesday as they watched five immigrants become American citizens.

"It's amazing, literally I lived here all my life but I love this country I call home," said Lance Cpl. David Silva Perez, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was only 3 years old. More than two decades later, he took an oath to become a U.S. citizen.

"I wanted to be a citizen all my life, but for whatever reason something always stood in the way," Perez said.

Perez says it wasn't easy growing up here and not getting the same benefits as a citizen, like not being able to apply for certain jobs and schools.

"Just coming from a different country not knowing the native language, having to learn throughout elementary school just not being able to have all the privileges another person has when you've been growing up in this country most of your life," he said.

For Chanonpon Spence the path to citizenship didn't take as long as Perez. She came from Thailand six years ago.

"I have family back in Thailand. We are not rich people so I came here for opportunity," Spence said.

Spence works as a beverage server in a casino and has had her share of struggles.

"It's completely different everything, food - people," she said. "I just want to say don't take this for granted."

The five newly sworn in citizens plan to register to vote so they can cast their ballots in the next election.

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