Nearly 7,000 eligible immigrants will be naturalized as U.S. citizens as part of this year’s Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, which were marked this past Sunday. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to naturalize more than 6,900 eligible immigrants in over 130 ceremonies that began earlier this month.
Special ceremonies have already taken place within the last few days in states including Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Virginia, and New York, where 200 immigrants were sworn in as new Americans at New York City’s John Jay College. It’s fitting they raised their hands to become full Americans on paper in a city built by immigrants who, much like them, were seeking new lives in this country.
“I was honored to deliver the opening remarks at the Naturalization Ceremony held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and welcome 200 new citizens,” college president Karol Mason said. “You bring a new set of hopes, dreams and ideas that will make our country brighter.”
Celebrating #NationalCitizenshipDay & #ConstitutionDay with a special event! DUSA is proud to be part of the @USCIS swearing-in ceremony at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and @CUNYCitizenship naturalization ceremony, welcoming over 200 new Americans! 🗽🇺🇸✨ #NewCitizens pic.twitter.com/GR5FGgZjTP
— Dominicanos USA | DUSA (@YoSoyDUSA) September 15, 2023
Forty immigrants representing more than two dozen countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens at Yellowstone National Park in Montana. Among them were Cecilia Berrett, who came to the U.S. from the Philippines nearly a decade ago. Her husband, Jacob, said he’d seen Cecelia “put in countless hours to gain citizenship,” KBZK reported. “Finally getting to watch her receive her naturalization certificate was a special moment for him.”
“I made it,” Cecilia told the outlet. “I can’t explain all the emotions, but here we go—I’m a U.S. citizen now.”
To watch local news footage of the event, click here.
Nearly 180 new Americans from 55 nations around the world were welcomed at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Massachusetts. Anfernee Para told 22News that his stepdad, a Haitian immigrant, woke up in tears “because he was waiting for this day. And I’m happy for him. And I will be happy for me because in 5 years I will be here.”
Omowunmi Shelton, a new American originally from Nigeria, told the outlet that U.S. citizenship “[m]eans a lot, it really means a lot and I’m so happy and I’m so excited … to be able to vote and to be able give back to the community.”
We held a ceremony where the UCIS welcomed 176 new U.S Citizens in celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day here at the Springfield Armory National Historic site. Congratulations to all! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/EqESPG4uGq
— Springfield Technical Community College (@STCCSpringfield) September 18, 2023
Citizenship Day observances also came from officials like Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su. “Both of my parents are immigrants,” she wrote in a Twitter thread. “My mom came to the United States on a cargo ship because she couldn’t afford a passenger ticket. My dad immigrated from Taiwan, and both eventually became citizens. After I was born in Wisconsin, my parents picked up everything, moved my family to Los Angeles, and worked various jobs to make ends meet.”
“My parents immigrated here because they believed in the promise of America—that if you work hard and you play by the rules, you’ll have the opportunity to build a good life,” Acting Secretary Su continued. “I believe in the promise of America too, and that we can turn the American dream into a reality, for all Americans and the next generation.”
I believe in the promise of America too, and that we can turn the American dream into a reality, for all Americans and the next generation. pic.twitter.com/zcBJeH7x4h
— Acting Secretary Julie Su (@ActSecJulieSu) September 17, 2023
Further special ceremonies are planned through September 22 in states including Arizona, Minnesota, Ohio, and Tennessee, USCIS said. “Following each naturalization ceremony, USCIS encourages new U.S. citizens and their families and friends to share their naturalization photos on social media using the hashtags #NewUSCitizen, #ConstitutionWeek, and #CitizenshipDay.”
“USCIS will continue to work in communities to raise awareness about citizenship in line with our mission to uphold America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect,” USCIS Director Ur Jaddou said. Following the Trump administration’s steady assault on legal immigration, the Biden administration announced a whole-of-government effort to encourage eligible immigrants to naturalize. The 2022 fiscal year would see the highest naturalization rate in more than a decade.
“We believe that promoting citizenship and encouraging eligible immigrants to naturalize and fully participate in our democracy is a cornerstone of the agency’s work and illustrates the spirit of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day through a focus on the rights, responsibilities, and importance of citizenship,” Director Jaddou continued. (Note: Prior to her appointment as USCIS Director, Jaddou ran DHS Watch, a project of America’s Voice.)
Congratulations to all the new Americans – and for eligible immigrants interested in citizenship workshops and events, click here.