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Citizenship Ceremony Welcomes Special Group of New Americans

November 17, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

On Friday morning, 100 children and teenagers hailing from around the world became United States citizens at a special ceremony.

The New Americans Museum, in conjunction with United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services, hosted its third annual children’s citizenship ceremony, where minors from 25 nations became U.S. citizens through naturalization.

The ceremony included addresses from local representatives Scott Peters and Suzanne Davis, who welcomed the new citizens, as well as dance and African drum performances.

Naturalization ceremonies generally do not feature children being sworn as citizens. However, the museum staff expressed that for younger immigrants becoming an American deserves to be marked by a celebration.

“We see children as the future,” said Linda Caballero Sotelo, director of the New Americans Museum. “Getting them to connect with democracy and becoming Americans through this ceremony is very important to us.”

After taking up the Naturalization Oath of the United States, the over 300 attendees, mostly family members, cheered and applauded the much-awaited moment in which their special ones became citizens of the United States.

Among those who became United States citizens this morning was 15-year-old Bertin Ntirandekura, who was born in the African nation of Burundi.

“I am very happy that I finally became a citizen. I had been asking my parents every day ‘when am I going to be a citizen?’ and today was my big day because I finally became one,” he said.

Bertin, who wants to be an engineer when he grows up, and whose passion is creating things, sees becoming a citizen as a great accomplishment and the start of new opportunities.

Bertin’s father, who became an American citizen and then filed paperwork to naturalize Bertin and his older sister Ange, also shares that feeling.

“We are so happy and we are excited because now he can do what he wants in his life,” said Johnbosco Ntirandekura, Bertin’s father. “Before this, maybe he thought he couldn’t so (his citizenship) means a lot”.

Wendy Olague, born in Mexico, was also presented as a citizen during the ceremony and, as a new U.S. national, sees more possibilities in her future. Like Bertin, she acquired her citizenship after her father became a citizen and then filed for her citizenship.

“For me this represents a super big opportunity,” Olague said. “American citizenship is something many cannot have and I will value it greatly because now I can have a better life.”

“It is very important that she has her citizenship because now she will have privileges such as being able to vote and continuing her studies,” said Marco Antonio Olague Rivera, Wendy’s father. “We are very thankful for this and will try our hardest to be the best of U.S. citizens.”

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