On Thursday, November 16, 2017, the United States District Court joined with government officials to welcome a group of new citizens to the country.
Twenty nine candidates for citizenship stood up in the well of the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Federal Building in Syracuse as Chief United States District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby took the bench. Chief Judge Suddaby warmly welcomed the candidates, encouraged them to relax, and invited their family members and friends in the gallery to move around the Courtroom to take photographs. As they did so, 10 men from the Dr. Tom Dooley Choraliers, wearing grass-colored blazers and peach-colored ties, stood up below the dais, covered their hearts and sang the national anthem.
As the candidates took their seats, Jeffrey S. Robins, of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, stepped up to a podium and presented the candidates for citizenship to Chief Judge Suddaby. He explained that all 29 candidates had fulfilled the requirements established by Congress, and were from 19 countries: Australia, Bhutan, Burma, Canada, China, Cuba, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Liberia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Somalia, South Korea, St. Vincent-Grenadines, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Yemen.
After Chief Judge Suddaby accepted the applications, Mr. Robins administered the Oath of Allegiance, instructing the candidates to stand and repeat after him. Then the new citizens recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and were treated to a powerful rendition of “America the Beautiful,” followed by a series of brief but inspiring remarks.
Lori Nguyen, of the Office of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, recounted her parents’ immigration from Vietnam in the 1980s and how she became Senator Schumer’s Deputy Regional Director; she encouraged the new citizens to work hard, pay their taxes and vote. Chris Smith, of the Office of U.S. Congressman John Katko, invited the new citizens to become informed about political issues and call their representatives with any requests or to express their views. Rustan Petrela, of the Office of Onondaga County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney, recounted his own naturalization in January 2000, extolled the virtues of the Central New York community, and cited examples of immigrants who came here with nothing and now own small businesses. David Anthony Muller, a new citizen from Australia, told the story of how he came here as a student in 1993 and became a professor of physics at Cornell University.
Chief Judge Suddaby thanked his fellow speakers, congratulated the new citizens for making the decision to come to the United States, and encouraged them to become involved in their communities.
After Chief Judge Suddaby presented the new citizens with certificates of citizenship, the Choraliers sang “God Bless America,” and Congressman Katko’s office presented a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building to a new citizen selected at random: Sulema Baptiste Echevarria from Cuba. The ceremony concluded when the Choraliers treated the new citizens to a musical rendition of the Irish blessing, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You.” All participants and attendees celebrated afterward while enjoying light refreshments in the lobby.
Naturalization ceremonies are frequent, in both Syracuse and Albany, and open to the public. For announcements of upcoming naturalization ceremonies, follow the NDNY-FCBA on Twitter: @ndnyfcba.