"I wish every U.S. citizen that's born here could experience a ceremony," Moses said. "You live it through the eyes of the people who are being newly immigrated.

"I think if the general public could understand what people go through to get here and what they face in their daily lives, there might be a little bit more of an understanding [for the immigrant community]."

The Baltimore office holds one to three ceremonies a day, four days a week, and conducts about 10 special ceremonies a year that are open to the public.

The Baltimore office receives an average of 1,900 naturalization applicants a month, said Daniel Cosgrove, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The average case takes five months from the time an individual completes a naturalization application until he or she takes the oath, he said.

More than 88,000 Maryland residents have been naturalized through the Baltimore office since 2008.

In the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has naturalized more than 6.6 million citizens across the country. The top countries of origin last year were Mexico, India, the Philippines, China and Colombia.

Most naturalized citizens — 73 percent — live in one of 10 states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Moses said her parents wanted to come to the United States so their four children could have more access to education and greater opportunities in life.

"That was the one thing my father wanted from all of us, to educate us and to allow us to become productive members of society," Moses said. "We all took advantage of what this country offers. I think he instilled in all of us the drive to be humanitarians and assist others."

She became a citizen when she was 19.

She earned a law degree from the University of Miami, practiced as an attorney, and earned a master's of law in international human rights at Stetson University before starting her job at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The agency does not track how many of their employees are naturalized citizens or Americans by birth, according to Cosgrove.

Moses said her goal is to do outreach on behalf of the agency to help foster a mutual understanding of its mission for both immigrants and citizens.

"Becoming part of this organization, it's been one of the best decisions of my life," Moses said. "I really believe in the good our organization does. I believe in this country, one hundred percent."

ywenger@baltsun.com

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Becoming American

•USCIS naturalizes approximately 680,000 citizens annually.

•In Fiscal Year 2011, 73 percent of all persons naturalizing lived in 10 states: California, Florida, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

•The leading metropolitan areas of residence were New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach.

•The top countries of origin for naturalization were in the following order: Mexico, India, Philippines, China, and Colombia.

•From September 2002 through June 2012, USCIS naturalized approximately 81,859 foreign-born members of the military.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services