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Living the American dream: 18 sworn in as U.S. citizens

Posted on February 13, 2012
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Immigration Judge John W. Davis swears in 18 candidates Friday for US. citizenship at the annual Naturalization Ceremony at Dunn IB Elementary School.

In an intimate ceremony Friday at Dunn Elementary School, immigrants from 13 countries grasped the American dream.

As they prepared to take the oath of allegiance and pledge themselves to the United States of America, 18 citizens-to-be were reminded of the responsibility and honor of participating in the nation’s democratic system.

“There are many privileges and rights as a citizen, including being able to vote, and we ask you to take part in those,” said Dana Lindauer, supervisory immigration services officer. “Make your story known and the path you took to become a citizen.”

Candidates were sworn in by Judge John W. Davis after months of studying and learning what it means to be a U.S. citizen.

To become a citizen, immigrants must complete a 10-page N-400 form, available online or at a state Department of Immigration and Naturalization office, which costs about $700 to file and several months to process.

“The roads you have traveled to get here today are as diverse as your countries are,” Davis said. “You studied and you achieved. … When you leave as a citizen, take a moment or two to appreciate that.”

Dunn has hosted the ceremony for the past eight years, creating what many participants called the “highlight of the year” because of the unique bond shared between students and citizen candidates.

Rep. John Kefalas, who is a naturalized citizen himself born in Piraeus, Greece, said the ceremony is a special remin-der of what it means to be American.

“It’s a great thing to be a citizen of this country,” Kefalas said. “I wish you great success and welcome you to our community.”

The fifth-grade class at Dunn played a large role in Friday’s proceedings, leading songs and the Pledge of Allegiance and welcoming the new citizens with a special presentation of “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie.

For Rabi Phelan, a fifth-grader who won an essay contest to participate in Friday’s ceremony, helping America’s newest citizens take their place in Fort Collins was personal; Phelan’s mother is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan.

“This is special to me,” Phelan said. “To become a citizen is as important as the sun that shines, the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s as important as friends and family and nature and Earth.

“When you make the jump to become a citizen, it’s a big leap that takes you one step higher. … It does not matter who you were in the past or where you lived. It matters who you are now. When you walk out this door, you will be a citizen – celebrate that.”

Friday’s citizen candidates came from 13 different countries: Chile, Denmark, Germany, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Somalia, Sweden, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Students attending Friday represented five countries in addition to the United States: Jamaica, Mexico, Jordan, South Korea and France.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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