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New American citizens to be sworn in July 4

  • Rayan and Adam Lmaalen pose with their parents on the lawn of the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton, July 4, 2017. The boys’ mother, Hind Burhim, of Morocco, became a citizen. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



For the Gazette
Monday, June 25, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — On the morning of July 4, approximately 50 immigrants from 32 different countries from around the world will take the final step in becoming United States citizens by swearing the oath of allegiance.

The ceremony marks the 10th time that the Center for New Americans, a resource center for immigrants and refugees in western Massachusetts, will have organized the naturalization ceremony. At 11 a.m. the immigrants, who have worked with tutors from the Center for New Americans to help them along the difficult path to citizenship, will be sworn in in front of the Hampshire County Courthouse.

U.S. Magistrate Katherine Robertson will preside, and the ceremony will also include an address by Mayor David Narkewicz to welcome the new citizens. According to the Center for New Americans, the event, in years past, has drawn a good crowd of local residents, who cheer when Robertson confers citizenship on the immigrants after their oath of allegiance.

The League of Women Voters will also be in attendance at the event, where they will be helping the new citizens register to vote.

“The League of Women Voters look forward each year to welcoming the new citizens who are sworn in on July 4,” league member Yvonne Freccero said. “We will be on hand to offer our friendship, invite them to register to vote and encourage them to participate in the upcoming elections.”

The ceremony is a chance to celebrate immigrant contributions to this country and welcome new citizens into the community, said Tina Sanchez of the Center for New Americans.

“Getting to help people through the citizenship process reminds me every day of the gifts and talents immigrants bring to this country,” Sanchez said.

According to Laurie Millman, the executive director of the Center for New Americans, the ceremony is also a way to celebrate and recognize the large commitment and effort it takes to become a U.S. citizen.

“Americans have no idea how hard it is, how expensive it is, to become a citizen,” Millman said.

She said that immigrants trying to become citizens have to know more about American history and civics, for the naturalization test, than many native-born Americans know.

“It’s not an easy thing,” said Millman, who also talked about how the Center for New Americans helps tutor immigrants trying to become citizens to pass their naturalization test.

Millman said that many Americans take their citizenship for granted, and the ceremony provides a way for native-born citizens to realize the privilege of being born into U.S. citizenship.

While the ceremony is about becoming American, Millman said the event is also about honoring and respecting the cultures of the new citizens.

“We want to welcome them, to honor their traditions even as they embrace U.S. culture,” Millman said.