There are 18 new American citizens Friday, after the Marine Corps held a naturalization ceremony aboard former battleship USS North Carolina.
1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division held the ceremony Friday morning, bringing in 18 Marines from 14 countries to become U.S. citizens, one of the largest ceremonies for a Marine Corps battalion, according to a news release from the 2nd Marine Division.
Since 2002, the United States has naturalized more than 158,000 service members, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, 10,640 service members became U.S. citizens, an increase of approximately 21 percent over the previous fiscal year.
The top five countries for service members who become U.S. citizens are the Philippines, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and China, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The 18 Marines came from countries including Burkina Faso, China and Colombia.
Although the 18 Marines have been serving already, their new citizenship will allow them to pursue different specialities or commissioning opportunities, according to the release.
“Today was a great chance to recognize a significant event in the lives of these young Marines” Lt. Col. William Kerrigan, the battalion’s commanding officer, said in the release. “They have already raised their hands and committed to defending this nation, without even being U.S. citizens. Now that they have earned their citizenship, I’m excited to see where it takes them.”
Between FY 2018 and FY 2022, 63 percent of service members who became naturalized citizens came from the Army, with 17.3 percent from the Navy, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Marine Corps accounted for 5.9 percent of service members who became naturalized citizens.