SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of thousands of immigrants become U.S. citizens every year and more than 200 became naturalized citizens Thursday in Springfield.
It was an important day for those who gathered at the Springfield Armory to be sworn in as citizens and these people put in a lot of time and effort to get to this place.
“It’s a lot of work to get here. You know they have to take tests, they have to be able to speak English, they have to understand how our government works and it’s tremendously meaningful to them,” said Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson.
22News asked the Laurie Millman, the Executive Director at the Center for New Americans in Northampton, to outline some of the steps prospective citizens must take.
First, you must apply for a green card. Once you have had your green card for five years you can start the process toward full citizenship, which includes a 22-page application, a list of personal history and security questions. Once the application is submitted with a fee of $765, studying for the interview, which includes knowing the answers to 100 questions, can begin.
Megan (Wen) Nguyen was getting sworn in. It took her about a year to complete the process, “I feel all kinds of things to be honest. I am excited, I feel very privileged. I feel like I have been wanting to do this since I was a child but all of a sudden there were so many obstacles and just to be able to do it now, to be the first one in my family is actually very meaningful… yeah.”
“I say thank god for everything. I love this country,” said Regina Lima, a new U.S. citizen.
The district court schedules on average three naturalization ceremonies a month with citizenship and immigration services.
Mayor Sarno states, “As a son of Italian immigrants, I am happy to be with each of these individuals as they officially become citizens of the United States of America. Our country is a melting pot and the traditions brought from our home countries are an important piece of the fabric of our nation. America is still the greatest Nation on Earth. We are the beacon of democracy and liberty and the envy of the world. God Bless the United States of America and God Bless the City of Springfield.”
The 200 citizenship candidates come from the following countries:
- Burkina Faso
- Congo Kinshasa
- Costa Rica
- Cote d-Ivoire
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Kenya Kosovo
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- The Philippines
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Trinidad and Tobago
“I Am an American Day.” Citizenship Day began in 1952, based on a law signed by President Harry Truman, and in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the first Constitution Week.