Citizens from 26 nations sworn in as new Americans

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UTICA — The United States District Court in Utica was packed as 50 individuals from 26 nations around the world were sworn in as new United States citizens.

Judge David N. Hurd presided over the naturalization ceremony to formally welcome the individuals as Americans and to advise them on exercising their new-found freedoms given to them.

“You are going to have some wonderful freedoms now that you may not have had in your native countries, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble,” Hurd said. “As you go on now as United States citizens, you are also going to have some serious obligations to be citizens. One of the main obligations is to vote in our elections. Exercise that right as soon as you become citizens. It is so important to vote, especially in this day and age.”

The ceremony featured a presentation of colors by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department Color Guard, remarks from local author and journalist Joe Kelly and music by local singer Amos Williams. Jana Selimovic, formerly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also provided comments to the citizens in the court house.

Selimovic was also one of the 50 individuals in attendance becoming a citizen. Speaking to the crowd, she empathized with the uncertainty that many immigrants have on coming to the United States and shared her and her family’s successes since arriving to this country.

“As many of you know, it is terrifying to uproot to a new country where you don’t speak the language, understand the culture and know the people,” Selimovic said. “The U.S. is known as the land of opportunity and my parents realized that very fast. They came to Utica and opened up one of the longest standing restaurants in Utica that’s been open for 10 plus years. As for myself, I stand here as a college educated American.”

After taking the Oath of Allegence, each individual came up one by one as their name was called to receive their certificate of citizenship, officially making them a citizen of the United States of America.

Before ending the ceremony, Hurd left parting words with the new citizens to remind them that they are all Americans regardless of what others might say.

“You have gone through more than I can even imagine to come here today to be citizens of the United States,” Hurd said. “So don’t ever, ever let anyone treat you like any less of a citizen. You are the equal, if not more the equal, than any natural-born citizen today. So be proud, go forward and remember you are a citizen of the United States of America.”

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