GV to host U.S. naturalization ceremony

Katherine West

Next week, Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus will be the home of a very significant and momentous event: a naturalization ceremony. Sixty-four people will take the oath of office at the ceremony and will be welcomed as the newest citizens of the U.S.

This is the first naturalization ceremony that will be held at GVSU. In past years, the event has been held at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, but it has been moved to GVSU this year due to ongoing construction at the museum.

Although a first for GVSU, ceremonies such as this have been a rite of passage for many deserving naturalized citizens. The Department of Homeland Security website states that in 2014 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services swore in approximately 654,949 citizens at naturalization ceremonies around the country and world.

There will be 64 new citizens sworn in, originating from 34 countries, including six individuals from Canada, five from Mexico, four from India, four from Iraq, three from Bhutan and three from Bosnia.

Professor Polly Diven, director of international relations, said the event will be very beneficial to students to attend in many ways and will greatly broaden their experiences.

“Students will benefit from seeing U.S. immigrants take the final steps to their long journey in the naturalization process,” Diven said. “A representative from the Customs and Immigration Service will explain the steps each new citizen has taken.

“The conveners will also recognize the many countries from which these new citizens hail. We will also sing the national anthem and say the Pledge of Allegiance together. It’s a time to be proud of our country and the way in which we welcome new citizens.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the general requirements of naturalization are that the applicant must: be at least 18 years old, be a green card holder, has resided as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least five years, has not left the U.S. for at least 30 months, possess good moral character, exhibit the skills of reading, speaking, writing, and understanding the English language, be knowledgeable of U.S. history and government and be inclined and able to take the oath of allegiance.

The oath of allegiance reads:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.” (Department of Homeland Security)

At the ceremony, representatives from the departments of Immigration and Customs will provide more information on the steps each new citizen took to reach this point in this long legal process, Diven said.

GVSU students who attend the naturalization ceremony will receive credit for LIB 100 and LIB 201. The event takes place on Sept. 28 from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the Loosemore Auditorium, located in Room 122E of the Devos Center.