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New American citizens welcomed

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Photo submitted Graciela Salazar-Rizo of Delta smiles happily as she recites the oath of allegiance at the federal courthouse in Grand Junction.

Residents of Delta, Cedaredge, Olathe and Montrose were among the 20 people who officially became new American citizens on Dec. 16.

A Delta resident, Graciela Salazar-Rizo, and a Montrose resident, Lina Bleier, successfully completed the established U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) citizenship process at a ceremony held in the U.S. courthouse at Grand Junction.

Graciela, a daycare provider, said the long process of application and study to pass the examination required of those seeking citizenship "was really hard. I am happy to be a citizen now."

Graciela did her homework and scored 100 percent on the naturalization examination the first time she took it, she said.

"I'm proud of it," she said of her new citizenship status. "Now I can see my future clearer. My daughters told me they were proud of me, too."

The naturalization ceremony that was held in Grand Junction last month offered the opportunity for the new citizens to register to vote following the oath of allegiance administered by a federal judge. But when the DCI spoke with Graciela, she had not completed that part of becoming a citizen yet because she had to leave the ceremony at its conclusion and get back to work.

"I will register to vote soon," she said.

Lina Bleier of Montrose also received her citizenship at the Dec. 16 ceremony.

Lina is a mother of five and grandmother of eight who attained her goal of citizenship at the age of "almost 70," she said.

She said she still has family in Mexico City. They are all proud of her achievement, including her ailing mother. "That is one of the reasons that I wanted to become a citizen so that I could visit my family and stay for longer periods," she said.

Lina, now retired, has worked as a private school supervisor and an insurance agent.

"I am very happy. This is a wonderful country, in the way that America welcomes people from all over the world."

The 20 new citizens participating in the ceremony last month are from the countries of Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, according to the USCIS.

Lina said she is glad to have finally gotten her citizenship. She had the chance about 45 years ago to do so, but declined. Now she is happy to be looking forward to living in America as a citizen.

Photo submitted Lina Bleier was one of three Montrose residents who received their certificates of citizenship. She is shown with her husband, Rick, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher.
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