On July 19, 125 people from 38 countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Mexico and Philippines, filled the Capitol Rotunda. Though these newly-minted Americans path towards citizenship vary, they united today as each of them took an oath of allegiance to the United States.
The naturalization ceremony was organized by Representative Norm Thurston, in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes congratulated the new citizens and those who helped them, achieve their goal of becoming U.S. citizens. He encouraged the citizens as they live the American dream to give back and help people along the way because that is what makes America great and strong.
“The American dream isn’t a guarantee of success but a guarantee of opportunity,” said Attorney General Reyes.
He then led the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Viviane Quintela, anchor and producer for Noticias Univision 32, who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, shared her experience and dream of becoming an American.
“You are not only dreamers, you are also doers and that’s why you are standing here becoming citizens of a country where dreams can come true,” said Viviane.” There is freedom and opportunity in every corner. I’m here to congratulate you and to remind you the dream goes on.”
Three new citizens spoke at the ceremony.
“I would like to say congratulations to everyone,” said Ejlaa Ahmed Alhaj from Sudan. “I would like to say thank you to my teacher and all the staff of Women of the World and my family. I’m so happy to be here.”
“I can now proudly say ‘hello my fellow Americans,’” said Daniel Souza from Brazil. “We may have taken different paths, but we all get here, we all come with the same purpose – looking for a better life and for being so graciously welcomed by this great country. I’m grateful for the privilege that you and I now have now. May we all, current and new citizens, become one indivisible nation under God.”
“So grateful to be an Americancitizen,” said Eniko Mason from Hungary. “We can all live here in this beautiful country.”
The U.S. National Anthem was performed by Cytel Schults, who has been singing since she was a little girl and enjoys helping others incorporate music into their lives.
Jerold McPhee, immigration services officer for USCIS, presided over the call of countries and presentation of candidates for citizenship. Laura McNeer, field office director for USCIS, administered the Oath of Allegiance.
The new citizens also heard a welcome message from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
“This is a fabulous day and it such a privilege to be a part of this experience,” said Rep. Thurston. “We welcome our newest citizen
s and hope they enjoy their new found citizenship.”
Following the ceremony, on-site voter registration was available to encourage the new citizens to be actively engaged in local, state and national matters as well as voice their opinion in future elections.
See additional photos here.