Another U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony

As noted in prior posts, the final step for someone to become a naturalized U.S. citizen is to attend a ceremony in which the individual takes an oath of allegiance to the United States of America and officially is declared to be a U.S. citizen. This is after such an individual meets the requirements of U.S. law through submission of an application with various aspects of personal information and an interview for vetting that information [1]

Such a ceremony took place in Minnesota on February 16, 2016, when 36 individuals became U.S. citizens. The new citizens came from 18 native countries and are among the approximately 12,000 U.S. citizens who will be naturalized this year in Minnesota. [2] Below is a photograph of some of the new citizens taken by Elizabeth Flores of the StarTribune.

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One of the new citizens, Paw Da Eh, was born of Burmese parents in a Thai refugee camp and grew up without a country. Now 22-years old and a student at St. Paul College, he remarked,“I feel so happy, so good, so excited. I had no country, no rights. I can’t describe what I feel right now.”

Another new citizen, Modou Sowe, a 53-year-old from Gambia in West Africa, called America “a great country” and said it was the best place to live. “I feel very happy and proud to be an American. We have free speech. You can say whatever you believe. Not like where I come from.”

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, who presided over the ceremony and swore in the new citizens, said, “We are a better country now than we were five minutes ago. We are better with you than without you.”  Frank added that three of his five daughters are naturalized citizens. 

The new citizens also watched a televised recorded greeting from President Obama, and each received a packet with their citizenship certificate, copies of the nation’s founding documents, a small American flag and a voter registration form. From attending other such ceremonies I assume the League of Women Voters Minnesota were there to assist the new citizens’ filling out the voter registration forms.

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[1] Minnesota Welcomes New U.S. Citizens (June 8, 2015). See also President Obama Welcomes New U.S. Citizens with Inspiring Challenge (Dec. 16, 2015);  Naturalized U.S. Citizens, Important Contributors to U.S. Culture and Economy (June 7, 2015).

[2] Reinam, Newly sworn citizens are overjoyed to be Americans, StarTribune (Feb. 16, 2016).