Northeast Times

Citizenship naturalization ceremony held at Northeast High

  • American pride: City Councilman Dennis O’Brien speaks as a special guest during a citizenship inauguration ceremony at Northeast High School. More than 100 people from 46 countries became citizens.

  • American pride: City Councilman Dennis O’Brien spoke as a special guest during a citizenship inauguration ceremony at Northeast High School. More than 100 people from 46 countries became citizens. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

One hun­dred people from 46 coun­tries changed na­tion­al­it­ies last week and be­came Amer­ic­an cit­izens dur­ing ce­re­mon­ies at North­east High.

The school was an apt place for so many people from so many dif­fer­ent lands to take their oaths of al­le­gi­ance to the United States. North­east High is a mul­ti­cul­tur­al pot­pourri, with stu­dents speak­ing scores of dif­fer­ent lan­guages. 

The na­tion’s new­est 100 cit­izens were asked to stand in the school’s aud­it­or­i­um when their former coun­tries were named. They came from Al­bania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bul­garia, Cam­bod­ia, Canada, People’s Re­pub­lic of China, Colom­bia, Costa Rica, Domin­ic­an Re­pub­lic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Geor­gia, Ger­many, Guatem­ala, Guinea, Haiti, In­dia, In­done­sia, Ir­an, Ire­land, Is­rael, Ja­maica, Jordan, Laos, Liber­ia, Lithuania, Mex­ico, Mol­dova, Mo­rocco, Oman, Pakistan, Phil­ip­pines, Po­land, Rus­sia, Si­erra Le­one, South Korea, St. Vin­cent-Gren­ad­ines, Su­dan, Syr­ia, Tan­zania, Turk­menistan, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vi­et­nam. China and the Domin­ic­an Re­pub­lic had the most rep­res­ent­a­tion last week, each sup­ply­ing eight new Amer­ic­ans.

Stu­dents and new cit­izens ap­plauded as their nat­ive lands were named.

As they stood, the flags of the new cit­izens’ former coun­tries were pro­jec­ted onto a large screen and then those im­ages dis­solved in­to one large Amer­ic­an flag.

The United States is strengthened by the di­versity its new cit­izens rep­res­ent, City Coun­cil­man Den­nis O’Bri­en told them and the school’s stu­dents and staff.

“You are a gift to this coun­try just as cit­izen­ship is a gift to you,” he said.

Im­mig­rants are of par­tic­u­lar in­terest to O’Bri­en. The coun­cil­man in March in­tro­duced a bill aimed at pro­tect­ing im­mig­rants from fraud­u­lent ser­vice pro­viders who prey on people who are vul­ner­able be­cause they don’t know the U.S. leg­al sys­tem. Bill 140142, O’Bri­en said when it was in­tro­duced, will cre­ate li­cens­ing stand­ards for those provid­ing im­mig­ra­tion ser­vices so people who need help with im­mig­ra­tion mat­ters won’t be ex­ploited.

The coun­cil­man also re­minded the new cit­izens they now have the right to vote as well as a few ob­lig­a­tions.

“You also have the right to pay taxes,” he said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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