Local Woman's Journey To Become U.S. Citizen is Over

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PANAMA CITY - Dozens of locals will become U.S. citizens this week.

The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is sponsoring another Naturalization Ceremony in Panama City Friday.

The ceremony will mark the end of a local woman's long journey from her homeland in Thailand.

Kaew Sumpton goes by Gail here in the U.S.

Gail's journey to Panama City Beach started more than a decade ago when she met her husband, Stewart on a blind date.

Stewart Sumpton said, "I traveled there two or three times a year for quite a few years."

After years of the long distance relationship, Gail decided to move here and apply for a green card.

"It was terrible to get her in, it was just awful. It took three years," he said.

Sumpton hired an immigration attorney to help.

Sumpton said, "Even though she was a hair dresser you know she was a simple Thai lady in the hairdressing business. She was sort of interrogated like a criminal."

There were more questions when Gail started the citizenship process.

Petitioners go through a series of interviews, background checks and tests.

"He asks you some of these 100 questions, the trouble is you don't know which questions he's going to ask you so you have to learn them all," Sumpton said.

"Oh my god, in the morning I get up early, I have some coffee and start early reading one, two, three. I read maybe an hour then my eyes are too tired. In the afternoon, I start again," Gail Sumpton said.
Gail passed her test earlier this year.

"Oh thank you sir, thank you sir. He asked for my signature and my hand was shaking, I'm too nervous. I cannot sign my name," she said.
Now Gail is excited for the naturalization ceremony at the end of the week.

She hopes that her story will inspire others.

"I'm not scared anymore, because people are scared. Now you can calm down and get this. It's no big deal. It's easy."

The government holds local naturalization ceremonies every few months.

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