60 local immigrants become U.S. citizens Friday at St. Dominic School in Delhi Township

'I'm very happy to be made part of America'
Local immigrants becoming newest Americans today
Posted at 7:14 AM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 19:44:38-05

DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The moment couldn’t come any sooner for Benjamin Cabilo.

The Mexico native, along with 59 others from 22 countries, took the oath of allegiance to become American citizens Friday.

"I just feel great,” Cabilo said. ‘It's nothing I can explain ... I'm very happy to be made part of America. I’m glad. I'm very glad.”

The naturalization ceremony was administered by Judge Karen Litkovitz at St. Dominic School before an audience of dignitaries, loved ones and students from the seventh grade political science classes.

Edwin Jose Ayuketah was the first to get naturalized. He escaped torture, persecution, rape and genocide in Cameroon West Africa.

"Having an American citizenship is like 10 billion dollars in your pocket, because through this citizenship you have freedom of speech, expression, religion -- anything,” Ayuketah said.

Being an American citizen, Ayuketah said, is a dream come true. 

"I hope to defend all the laws of this fatherland,” Ayuketah said. “I hope to serve in the important workforce and participate peacefully in the democratic process."

Among those who obtained citizenship are Frank and Monica Bernhardt, who moved to West Chester Township from Germany in 2002 when Procter and Gamble transferred Frank's job as an IT manager to Cincinnati.

The Bernhardts received a letter last month congratulating them on meeting all the requirements for naturalization.

"You already have a lot of options when you have a green card, but in order to feel really integrated in the community and society and take a more active role in community it is necessary to become a citizen," Frank said. "I have the best of both worlds especially because Cincinnati is such a Germanic city."

"What I really like about it is that I can live here forever, and there will be no questioning about that," Monica added.

The Bernhardts also commented on President Donald Trump's recent executive order banning refugees and limiting travel, even for green card holders, from seven Muslim-majority countries.

"I understand some of the motivation behind it, but on the other hand usually the people that are coming in from other countries that applied for a green card -- they are actually accepted as a green card holder for a reason, and the reason is they bring either enormous talent or capability," Frank said.

St. Dominic has hosted these ceremonies for a decade, and students made ribbons to give to all participants. In order to become a citizen, applicants must have resided in the United States continuously for at least five years and pass a civics test conducted in English (among other requirements listed here).