PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Nineteen people from thirteen countries gather at the Allegheny Department of Human Services Wednesday morning, to officially become Americans. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says 38,000 new citizens are being sworn this day, across the country.

“We want to build bridges and we want to welcome people,” he says, to applause

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The Pledge of Allegiance is led by Pakistani immigrant Saima Sitwat, leader of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. She hopes her ten-year-old daughter can achieve the American dream, despite growing anti-Muslim sentiment.

“It hurts me in some ways to see her, at this young age, absorb this, and go through all this.”

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The road to citizenship is oftentimes a long one.

“Thanks to this wonderful country,” Mexican native Juan Urtiz announces at the podium “I’ve waited forty years. It’s a long time.”

He says it’s been worth every minute.

“I’m so proud of myself. I will be able to work for the federal government. I was not allowed before.”

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Voter registration tables are set up in the lobby. The new Americans have taken the oath of allegiance just in time to exercise the duty and privilege of citizenship. They will be able to vote in the upcoming election.