NORWALK, Conn. – The United States welcomed 25 new citizens Tuesday during a special naturalization ceremony held at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk.
The newly minted citizens hail from 18 different countries and took the Oath of Allegiance in a ceremony presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Garfinkel. The ceremony was the first naturalization ceremony ever held in the City of Norwalk.
The participants in the ceremony were welcomed by Patsy Brescia, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. She gave a history of the building, and pointed out that many of its builders and staff were immigrants. Ethan Enzer, section chief for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
“The journey of the immigrant in this great nation is ongoing,” Enzer said. “Taking the Oath of Allegiance to be a U.S. citizen has great meaning, for it is immigration that makes our country stronger and more diverse.”
Before administering the oath, Garfinkel said that hundreds of thousands of people become citizens every year, and that more people become citizens of the United States than any other country. The people who became citizens Tuesday come from Albania, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
“Acknowledge what you’ve accomplished. This is not easy, you’ve taken a test that most American college students would not pass,” Garfinkel said to the group. “Some of you are the first American citizens in your family, some of you may not be. All of you are very likely to be remembered for generations to come.”
Mayor Harry Rilling said his heart melted to see the new citizens take the Oath of Allegiance, and he congratulated them.
“This is an opportunity for all of you. You worked so hard to get where you are today. You embraced this country, and we in turn embrace you,” Rilling said.
Sen. Bob Duff congratulated the new citizens on the courage it took to leave their countries and homes and start a new life in the United States.
“All of you really bring about a stronger state of Connecticut, a stronger country, and I hope you all recognize the importance of yourselves, and what you mean to our livelihoods, to jobs and to the economy,” Duff said.
“You’re starting on a journey today that has some requirements. Not legal requirements, but if you’re going to be a citizens in the strongest sense of the word, you’re going to do your part to preserve the system of government that guarantees you those rights by participating,” he said.
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