New American citizens sworn in at naturalization ceremony

29 people from 17 nations became U.S. citizens in Springboro ceremony

A special ceremony was held Thursday afternoon at Springboro High School as America’s 29 newest citizens took their oath of allegiance, capping off a years-long process to become U.S. citizens.

After spending five or more years as a permanent resident with a green card, 29 people from 17 nations officially became U.S. citizens as they took their oaths administered by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Guy R. Humphrey.

Before the special session of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio began, court and officials from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service were going over the last-minute paperwork. Family and friends of the soon-to-be citizens were also in the auditorium and were just as excited.

Each person swore to give up their past allegiances to their home nations, to bear arms for the United States when required by law, and to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Those applying for citizenship are tested on their ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English as well as on American history and government. Those who fail the test the first time have two opportunities to retest.

A person must wait a minimum of five years after receiving permanent residence to apply for citizenship. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews immigrants, conducts the testing and verifies they are ready to become citizens. If the new citizens have children under age 18, they can file papers to become U.S. citizens with them.

Humphrey said presiding over naturalization ceremonies is something he can do outside the federal bankruptcy court in Dayton. A Springboro resident, Humphrey said, “as a federal judge these are great to do because everyone is happy.”

A Springboro resident, Humphrey said each of them are welcome in America just as much as a person whose family has been here for generations. He reminded them that there were “no limits” on what they can accomplish and everyone is enriched by what each of them are bringing to their new country.

After the ceremony, Humphrey posed for photos with each new citizen with their naturalization certificate.

The new citizens originally came from the following nations: Congo, Costa Rica, Eritrea, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Lebanon, New Zealand, Nigeria, Palestine, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, and Vietnam.

“I’m a citizen now,” Mohammed Essa, formerly of Palestine, said. “I am happy for my family. The USA is nice to live in for my family.”

Essa, an engineer who lives in Xenia, came to the U.S. in 2019 and said the process was difficult.

“I’ve been working for five years and the five years went quickly,” he said. “I am very happy. I’m free now.”

Megan Christiansen brought Marvin, her service dog in training, who was wearing a stars and stripes scarf for the occasion. Christiansen, formerly of New Zealand, said she has been living in the U.S. since 2013 after she won a green card in a diversity lottery. She is a visual artist who teaches at Wittenberg University.

“I built a life here and I want to vote,” she said. “I don’t see myself leaving. I love this weird, crazy, but very special country.”

The League of Women Voters of Dayton was also on hand to encourage the new citizens to fill out their voter registration forms so they can perform one of the crucial rights of a citizen — voting.

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