A group of 20 immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens of the United States Friday morning at New Bedford's Immigrants Assistance Center.

Among the group were folks from countries such as Portugal, Egypt, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Cape Verde.

Wallace Lopes and Ricardo Heinrich both came to the U.S. from Brazil and attended New Bedford High School together. Lopes said he is working on Cape Cod and looking forward to the opportunity to better his family as well as his new country.

"This country just offers so many beautiful opportunities to me and I'm so happy that this country is so great to us," Lopes said. "I'll take immediate advantage of everything this country has to give to me and my family and try to do my best to make this country better as well."

Heinrich echoed the desire to take full advantage of his new opportunities as a citizen.

"First thing is to get the passport, register to vote," said Heinrich. "It's life-changing to us coming from a different perspective, from a different country and having different opportunities in a country like the United States."

The Hon. Thomas McGuire presided over the ceremony and took time to remind the group "the country is in your hands" when referring to the citizens' new civic duties of voting and appearing for jury duty.

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