UNI honors new U.S. citizens

A new U.S. citizen raises his American flag as he is honored in a emotional and patriotic preceeding at the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony in the University of Northern Iowa Maucker Union Ballroom.
A new U.S. citizen raises the American flag after taking the Naturalization Oath, making his complex and long journey toward becoming a citizen complete.

Approximately 80 individuals were honored on Friday, March 4, as they became U.S. citizens in an emotional and patriotic proceeding at the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony in the University of Northern Iowa Maucker Union Ballroom.

The new citizens reside primarily in Eastern Iowa but come from numerous nations, such as Somalia, Mexico, Rwanda and China.

These types of ceremonies are official federal legal proceedings for immigrants who have participated in the complex and long process of becoming a legally recognized U.S. citizen.

"Holding the event at UNI brings the educational nature of the program to local students and residents of the Cedar Valley and highlights the personal impact of immigration in Northeast Iowa," said Michele Devlin, associate director of UNI's Immigration and Migration Studies program.

In attendance was the Hon. Jon S. Scoles, presiding U.S. magistrate judge; Marcia Prochnow, deputy clerk; and Laura Kenkel, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer.

"This effort is part of the Immigration and Migration Studies program at UNI, which is one element of the

university's broader commitment to promoting diversity, global understanding and cross-cultural

communication," said Devlin. "It puts a human face on the complex political, legal, economic and social issues surrounding immigration."

The individual stories of these new citizens represent the story of America that has brought so many people together from around the world and has blended us into one country, said Devlin.  

Hon. Jon S. Scoles, presiding U.S. magistrate judge speaks with a new U.S. citizen's family.
Hon. Jon S. Scoles, presiding U.S. magistrate judge, speaks with a new U.S. citizen's family

"Becoming a U.S. citizen now means I have the opportunity to help

the diversity in this nation," said Lingxin Yan from China, who was among the

individuals granted U.S. citizenship. "That is my mission, and I feel that today I am one step closer to that mission."

UNI is the state's leading academic institution that specializes in providing research, training, education, outreach, presentations and publications on issues related to migrant populations, especially those in the Midwest. UNI offers a number of courses on migration-related topics for students and working professionals.

President Barack Obama sent a message to the new citizens. "This is now officially your country … your home," he said. "You can now help write the next chapter in American history."