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. ••