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In largest kids naturalization ceremony since the pandemic began, 64 kids in Denver become citizens

The kids were from 29 different countries.

DENVER — At the Children's Museum of Denver, Monday was a big day for lots of little people. More than 60 kids, ages 2-11, became citizens of the United States.

"It's so fun to see all these different people," said 10-year-old Stella Borchert.

"And you wonder what their story is what country they're from," replied her mom, Katie Borchert. 

Stella's story started 10 years ago when she was adopted as a baby in Uganda. 

Her dad was stationed there with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her mom started a nonprofit there to help women learn business and sewing skills. 

Stella's family, which includes three other adopted siblings, moved back to the states when she was 5. 

Credit: Borchert Family
The Borchert family while living in Uganda.

Becoming a U.S. citizen means she can get a passport to visit.

"I'm really excited that I can go back to my home country," said Stella. "Not whenever I want, but knowing I can go without having troubles." 

The kids at Monday's ceremony are becoming citizens either through parents who just became citizens themselves or like Stella, through adoption. 

But the pandemic and staffing shortages have made families wait a long time.

The Borcherts submitted their application for Stella to the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services two years ago. 

"All of our other kids are US Citizens and she's the last one so it's just special, said Katie. "It's special that we're all finally you know U.S. citizens. And now we can travel wherever we want to go, freely without any issues."

It's a big day for a new citizen who has plans to do big things.

"I really want to become a veterinarian or a soccer player for the U.S. women's soccer team," said Stella. "And yeah, help other people that are in need." 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has set a goal for processing times to get under six months. To help reduce the caseload, hiring is a top priority. Agencywide, UCIS has about 4,400 vacancies.

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