Laurie Millman, Executive Director
Fifty new U.S. citizens to be sworn in on July 4th in Northampton
"Working with Center for New Americans to become a U.S. citizen was easy and stress-free. Thank you, Center for New Americans, for your help on my journey!" ~~ SuSu Min, Center for New Americans client naturalized July 4, 2017
On the morning of July 4th, 50 immigrants will be sworn in as U.S. citizens in an intimate and moving naturalization ceremony. The ceremony, which is organized by Center for New Americans in partnership with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, will take place outside on the grounds of the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton at 11:00 A.M. (In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Courthouse in Courtroom #1.)
U.S. Magistrate Katherine Robertson will preside. Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz will welcome the new citizens. Well-known local vocal artist, Evelyn Harris, will sing the national anthem. Girl Scout troop 12926 from Greenfield will proudly serve as Color Guard. The League of Women Voters, Northampton Chapter, will enthusiastically register new citizens to vote. WTCC-FM, the radio station of Springfield Community College, will broadcast the ceremony live and provide music. Light refreshments will be available.
This year’s naturalization marks the 10th year Center for New Americans is organizing this ceremony. Holding the ceremony in Northampton is important for several reasons. It makes it possible for immigrants who live and work in Western Massachusetts to share this special event with friends, family, and community members. Traditionally, the event is attended by about 300 local residents who cheer heartily when the Honorable Katherine Robertson confers citizenship to them after they take their oath of allegiance to the U.S.
Says Tina Sanchez, Center for New Americans’ Citizenship Associate, "Getting to help people through the citizenship process reminds me every day of the gifts and talents immigrants bring to this country. Each person has a powerful story and I feel lucky to share a little in each of their lives."
In addition, the seriousness with which the applicants approach the event underscores the length of the journey they have taken and the effort they have committed to become U.S. citizens, which includes filling out a long application, traveling to a U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services office to be fingerprinted, and studying U.S. history and civics in preparation for an interview with an Immigration officer. Center for New Americans’ staff and volunteer tutors accompany immigrants on this journey. It is likely that few native-born Americans appreciate how much preparation is involved.
Yvonne Freccero from The League of Women Voters indicated that “The League of Women Voters look forward each year to welcoming the new citizens who are sworn in on July 4th. Each new citizen will have studied US citizenship and is often more knowledgeable than those of us who greet them. 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 event is free and open to the public. Center for New Americans thanks the many local businesses that support the organization’s citizenship preparation assistance on the occasion of this annual event: Borawski Insurance, Bueno y Sano, Cooley Dickinson Healthcare, Health New England, UMass Five College Credit Union, Florence Bank, Greenfield Cooperative Bank/Northampton Cooperative Bank, Pengyew Catering, River Valley Co-op, Congressman McGovern, Congressman Neal, Representative Stephen Kulik, Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Belly of the Beast, Amanouz Café, JoiaBeauty, Village Day Spa.
About Center for New Americans: Center for New Americans has been welcoming and serving immigrants in Western Massachusetts for over 25 years. Center for New Americans teaches English, computer skills, civics, and career preparation and training, and offers citizenship assistance and immigration legal services. Center for New Americans has program sites in Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, and Turners Falls.