Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Over 200 participate in naturalization ceremony at UMass

The event was hosted by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Alexandra Rowe
Applicants stand for the National Anthem.

Over 200 applicants became naturalized citizens during a ceremony hosted by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) inside Bowker Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon.

Applicants hailed from 60 countries of origin, from Afghanistan to Zambia. Among them were at least one University of Massachusetts faculty member and staff member.

This is the second time SBS has held the ceremony. The college now plans to host it on an annual basis, said Jennifer Lundquist, SBS senior associate dean of research and faculty development. UMass alum Joseph Forte, director of the Manchester New Hampshire Field Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services created the event along with SBS Dean Karl Rethemeyer.

Inside the auditorium, applicants and their children sat in the front rows, while supporters sat in the back and on the balcony. Forte informed the audience that any children under 18 are now officially American citizens. The crowd let out a collective exhale, followed by applause.

Lundquist provided opening remarks along with a land acknowledgement. Audience members then stood for the posting of colors by servicemen led by Sergeant Underwood and the playing of the National Anthem. Forte then announced that all 108 name changes would be allowed.

Applicants recite the Oath of Allegiance.

U.S. District Court Clerk Tamara Figueroa administered the Oath of Allegiance to the applicants. Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson of the U.S. District Court then announced to the crowd, “I get to be the very first person to congratulate you. You are now American citizens!”

Audience members cheer and wave flags after hearing that they are now American citizens.

“Presiding at ceremonies like this one is the happiest, the most joyous part of my job,” said Robertson.

State rep. Mindy Domb also spoke at the event: “This is one of the best events I ever get to go to, both as an elected official and as a resident of Amherst,” Domb said. “It’s just very moving and exciting and happy and I’m so honored to be in the presence of people who are so brave and courageous and who have chosen to join us and who made the choice to become citizens.”

A message from President Biden then played, and certificates of citizenship were passed out to the crowd.

New American citizens and their families spilled out onto the sunny auditorium steps and patio, where they celebrated and took family photos.

“I feel really really really happy. It’s like a dream come true,” said Zaionara Machado, who was born in Brazil. “23 years. So big day, important day, really excited to be a citizen of this country that I love and that has been home.”

Machado is excited to “just be able to do all things that citizens do without being scared.”

“I’m going to be able to vote, I’m going to be able to get my passport, and all these wonderful things,” she added.

Sayed Irfan is the first of the three generations in his family to be an American citizen. His granddaughters were born here, and his daughter became a citizen Tuesday.

“It’s a great honor for us,” Irfan said. “We are working for this country, we are working for this great nation and we want to make it happy and prosperous.”

“I felt a lot,” Irfan said, in reference to when he first arrived in the U.S. from Pakistan. “I feel proud that I’m here and my family’s here.”

Alexandra Rowe can be reached at [email protected].

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