Naturalization ceremony in St. George for the first time welcomes 15 new U.S. citizens

ST. GEORGE — In an emotional naturalization ceremony in St. George held in the U.S. District Court, 15 people were sworn in as United States citizens after taking the oath of allegiance Monday afternoon. The ceremony was presided over by Magistrate Judge Robert T. Braithwaite.

Fifteen men and women take the oath of allegiance in a naturalization ceremony held in the U.S. District Court in Washington County Monday. St. George, Utah, April 24, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Hailing from Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Brazil, Russia, Ecuador, India and Chile, the emotional men and women raised their right hands and pledged an oath to defend and support the Constitution of the United States and renounced all allegiance to their countries of origin.

For Nubia Tangreen, formerly of Colombia, it was a special moment, one that was many years in the making, she said.

“I am excited because it was work a lot of years,” Tangreen said. “I am very happy.”

The pathway to citizenship isn’t always easy. To be allowed to take the oath, prospective citizens must pass an English reading and writing examination and be able to communicate with officials in English as well as pass a government civics examination, said Laura McNeer, field office director for the Salt Lake City Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“It’s nice to be able to share in this experience that they’ve worked so hard for,” McNeer said.

Almost all naturalization ceremonies are very special but this ceremony was particularly poignant as it was the first to be held in St. George in the past people have had to travel to Salt Lake City for the ceremony as well as multiple times during the process of becoming a citizen.

Nubia Stella Tangreen poses for a photo Monday after being sworn in as a U.S. citizen in the U.S. District Court in Washington County. St. George, Utah, April 24, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Having the ceremony close to home allowed for a large crowd of supporters to attend and the courtroom was filled to capacity.

Braithwaite said that next time they will get a bigger room.

Because the ceremony was being held for the first time in St. George, Julie Wierschem, a deputy clerk from the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, attended and helped facilitate the process. It is the hope that there will be more naturalization ceremonies held in St. George in the future, Wierschem said.

“Now we want to be able to accommodate the people in this area,” Wierschem said. “I think that we’ll have them down here a few times a year.”

The number of times there will be a ceremony in St. George will depend on the amount of applications U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receive from people in the area seeking citizenship, Wierschem said.

The ceremony accommodated not only St. George residents but residents from all over the southern portion of Utah.

Tangreen resides in Moab, she said.

Prior to the swearing in, a brief patriotic ceremony was held. Members of the Dixie High School Air Force junior ROTC posted the colors of the United States and everyone joined in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Musical numbers including the national anthem were performed by the Dixie High School Madrigals.

Valerie King, vice regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter, spoke at the ceremony and encouraged all the new citizens to continue to honor their own cultures while fully embracing the American culture.

King said:

To those of you taking your oath of allegiance today, your journey on the road to U.S. citizenship is about to end and a new journey begins as an American citizen … The American way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is yours to behold.

“It’s a really inspirational thing to watch people become new citizens and tell about their journey,” Wierschem said. “For some of them, they come from war torn countries and from refugee camps and it’s just a great reminder for those of us that were born here of all the things that we can enjoy and the freedoms that we have.”

In his remarks to the 15 men and women participating in Monday’s ceremony, Braithwaite said that he hoped the newly minted citizens would participate in all the rights, privileges and freedoms granted to citizens, especially the right to vote.

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  • wilbur April 25, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Were they handed their Demoncrat registration materials after the ceremony?

    • theone April 25, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Hey Wilbur, I think Mr. Ed is looking for you he needs his stall cleaned.
      Be a good little republican and share your compassion for humanity.

  • youcandoit April 25, 2017 at 8:57 am

    That’s great congratulations. If it wasn’t for my great grandfather I’d be Czech republic.

  • Rainbow Dash April 25, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Congratulations. Love that one of them was Mexican. I wonder if s/he supports the wall.

    Either way, it proves that citizenship is NOT beyond reach of people who want it.

    • Utahguns April 25, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadorian, Colombian, Costa Rican, Czech, Brazilian, Russian, Ecuadorian, Indian and Chilean…..
      They’re ALL role models of those wanting to enter the United States LEGALLY and I’m sure they support legal immigration.
      The wall will keep out illegals. Remember?
      Congratulations to all!

      • Chris April 25, 2017 at 12:25 pm

        if you think the “wall” will keep out illegals, you are quite gullible.

        • Utahguns April 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm

          Even the best fumigator won’t keep all the cockroaches out, but, your pantry will be safer.

        • Henry April 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm

          We missed your response yesterday. What’s your academic background?

  • darkgoddess April 25, 2017 at 10:18 am

    @wilbur, likely you are also descended from an immigrant, too. Or, did you just pop up out of the ground on American soil?

  • Henry April 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Congratulations and welcome, new American citizens! The time you invested and bureaucratic hurdles you overcame weren’t easy. Enjoy and defend the freedoms of your new country.

  • comments April 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    All good that these folks got here legally. The border wall is a ridiculous idea. The problem is there is no policy in place that discourages employers from hiring illegals. A $1000 fine for each instance of an employer caught employing an illegal–enforce this and there’d be a mass exodus of illegals back across the border. Illegals have become an ingrained part of our economy and employers would fight a policy like that tooth and nail, bc huge amounts of their profits come from cheap labor of illegals. This wall thing is just a total joke from our red-faced buffoon in chief. They can build the thing a mile high and illegals will find a way in if they know there is work opportunity for them (and welfare, and auto citizenship for anchor babies). A lot of these trumpites need to grow a brain, but it’s like i said, you may can fix ignorance, you can’t fix stupid.

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