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Judge hurries U.S. naturalization as pregnant woman gets contractions

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge in California had to speed up the naturalization of a pregnant immigrant on Thursday when the woman, anxious to become a U.S. citizen because of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, started experiencing contractions.

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The 31-year-old Armenian-American woman, who was scheduled to give birth to her second child next week by cesarean section, said she started to feel contractions after a walk to a Los Angeles convention center where the judge was naturalizing about 3,200 immigrants.

She refused to leave until she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, said U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, who performed an impromptu naturalization ceremony before the official event began for immigrants from 114 different countries.

The woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Tatev, said she returned home and the contractions stopped once she rested.

Tatev said concerns about Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration prompted her to accelerate her 6-year-long naturalization process.

“I sped up this process because of the fact of the current president, because the immigration laws are under attack,” said Tatev, a former California high school history teacher, adding she was fearful her green card, which makes her a legal permanent U.S. resident, would be taken from her.

Trump said on Wednesday his administration was seriously looking at ending the right of citizenship for U.S.-born children of non-citizens and people who immigrated to the United States illegally.

He has made cracking down on legal and immigration a central plank of his presidency and re-election campaign, but many of the administration’s sweeping rule changes and executive orders have been stymied by the courts.

“I don’t want my kid to face these issues growing up in this country and having this be his home and not legally being part of this country,” said Tatev, who stays home to care for her 2-year-old daughter.

Tatev said in a phone interview that she arrived in the United States from Armenia when she was 14 and it took her 17 years to first get a green card and then citizenship.

“If he (Trump) doesn’t like what’s happening, why don’t we pass better policies that make it a little easier for people to go through this process instead of having to sneak into this country and go through so many horrible experiences?” she said.

Reporting by Lucy Nicholson in Los Angeles; Writing and additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney