Some were so tiny their parents had to hold up their right hands to take their oath.
Twenty-four Northern California children were sworn in Tuesday at a special ceremony honoring their new status as U.S. citizens.
The children – none older than 12 and from 12 countries – qualified for citizenship because their parents also are naturalized U.S. citizens or because they were adopted by Americans.
"Now you are an American," Sacramento clinical psychologist Jayanthi Kasiraj told her daughter Riya, 4, adopted in India a year ago.
"Now I'm family," said Riya, decked out in a silk south India outfit and sneakers with flashing lights.
Thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2000, adopted children are now granted automatic U.S. citizenship once adoptions are final. Before 2000, such children had to become legal permanent residents first and then apply for citizenship.
Minor children of naturalized citizens also become citizens through parents.
When they receive citizenship certificates, as the children did Tuesday, kids older than 14 must recite an oath to defend the United States and "renounce and abjure foreign princes and potentates."
Michael Biggs, field director of the Sacramento U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services office, where the ceremony took place, led the children in that oath Tuesday, although none was old enough to have to recite it.
"There were a lot of long words," said Justine Oribello, 10, of El Dorado Hills, whose little brother, Joaquin, 5, also tried to follow along.
"Where did you get that suit? Brooks Brothers?" Biggs gently joked, as he later handed a certificate to Joaquin, who was wearing a miniature suit and tie.
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