April 11 marked the rebirth of nineteen candidates from Danbury and the surrounding area who took the Oath of Allegiance and became U.S. citizens in a ceremony at the Danbury Public Library, led by Ethan Enzer, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Section Chief at the Hartford Field Office.
“What a better way than to welcome the new citizens in a public library, an institution that has been empowering immigrants for more than a century,” said Rodrigo Fuenzalida, Danbury Library Communications Specialist, in his welcoming remarks.
Over the last year, the Danbury Library has been a participant in the Peer Library Citizenship Coalition, an initiative started through the support of the federal Citizenship Education and Integration grant from the USCIS to the Hartford Library. The purpose of the grant was to develop resources for immigrants and new citizens in the library and reinforce the importance of libraries in Connecticut communities.
Danbury’s ceremony was one of six naturalization ceremonies hosted at public libraries in Connecticut during National Library Week, April 8-14.
Speakers at the event included Mayor Mark Boughton, Tribuna Newspaper editor and Board of Education member Emanuela Palmares and Danbury Police Officer Hector Rodriguez, a Colombian native who became a citizen after serving in the U.S. Army following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Palmares inspired the new citizens by explaining the many ways to become active members of their communities. “Today on your citizenship day, on the day that you can have a rebirth of a new phase of your American dream, I ask you to consider making question number 55 your bucket list too, but instead of only picking two of the choices, take on the goal of accomplishing them all. And for those who have not taken the citizenship test, and were fortunate enough to be born in this blessed land, question number 55 is… What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?”
Honorable Senior U.S. District Judge Warren Eginton administered the swearing in ceremony, leading the nineteen new American citizens through the pledge of allegiance oath. He also invited the new citizens to consider serving on court juries. “Serve on our juries because we need you. Our cases are emotional in both federal and state court.”
Mayor Boughton expressed his pride to share such a special moment with the new citizens, their families and friends. “…Even though we are all from different places, and we are different people with different customs, religions and traditions, in reality, we are a community. And we care for one another, and we care compassionately about each other. That’s what makes the city such a special place,” he said, adding, “What make us really ultra special today is that you all have probably done one of the most important things that you could do as an American. You have become a United States citizen. This is a big deal!”