On Independence Day, Minting Thousands Of New Americans

Jul 4, 2018
Originally published on July 4, 2018 5:42 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today is Independence Day. And for a lot of Americans, that means pie, barbecue, fireworks and flags. But for a few thousand people around the country, it's also the day they become American citizens. In the days around Fourth 4th of July, nearly 14,000 immigrants will become naturalized citizens, taking the oath of allegiance at dozens of ceremonies, from the city council chambers in Denver and Saguaro National Park in Tucson to the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia to Portsmouth, N.H.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light...

CHANG: That's the sound of 103 immigrants from 46 countries singing their new national anthem after becoming American citizens. They took the oath late this morning at the Strawbery Banke Living History Museum.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Would all those applying for citizenship please rise? I am about to administer to you the oath of allegiance to the United States of America. Please raise your right hand. Keep it raised during the oath. And repeat after me. I hereby declare on oath...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I hereby declare on oath...

HAJAR SLAOUI: My name is Hajar Slaoui (ph) from Morocco. I'm a 29-year-old. I'm so lucky that I am going to be a citizen on this special day, the Independence Day. I'm so excited and so happy. That was my dream since I was a teenager. I've always dreamed to be a U.S. citizen. So today, this dream is becoming true.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...That I will support and defend...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...That I will support and defend...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...The Constitution and the laws...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...The Constitution and the laws...

MARGARET DUNKWA: My name is Margaret Dunkwa (ph). I'm from Ghana in West Africa. I am 59 years old. Because I've been here for quite a while, it's really like, if I'm going to stay here, why don't you do it and know that you have all the rights and responsibilities that every citizen have? I can vote. Sometimes, when it's election time, and my husband can vote, and I can't, I really get pissed off. Sorry (laughter). We all want to have a say in what is happening.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...That I will bear true faith and allegiance...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...That I will bear true faith and allegiance...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...To the same.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...To the same.

THILAK NADOLA: I'm Thilak Nadola (ph). I was from Bhutan. Currently, I'm 26 years old. After almost 20 years of life in refugee camp without citizenship, without any identity, as a refugee, finally, the U.S. government came with the proposal that they want to resettle those refugees to the United States and all the different countries. And then I feel like, OK. Now some kind of hope came because I'm going to have a citizen of at least one country, you know, where I can speak publicly, where I can do my work, where I can pursue my education and stuff like that. Now it's time for us to contribute to this great nation.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...Without any mental reservation...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...Without any mental reservation...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...Or purpose of evasion...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...Or purpose of evasion...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: ...So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You may be seated.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANG: Those are voices from a naturalization ceremony today in Portsmouth, N.H. They were brought to us by Leila Goldstein at New Hampshire Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.