Citizenship ceremonies across the country screeched to a virtual standstill for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving more than 100,000 immigrants who would have taken citizenship oaths over the past few months in limbo, waiting for the announcement on when their ceremonies will be rescheduled.
But for some citizens in Detroit, the long wait is over. They were able to check-in with US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees wearing personal protective equipment and then were sworn in through their windows by a federal judge.
In a release by the United States courts, federal judges in Detroit are now welcoming citizens to the United States by swearing them in at a parking structure outside immigration field offices in the Motor City.
Instead of the usual courtroom, meeting room, or auditorium ceremony with throngs of well-wishers looking on, communities have been forced to thinks of new ways to swear in new citizens.
US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford, who swore in the first group of immigrants in Detroit, said that ‘it is always a pleasure to swear in new citizens,’
“They are so grateful to become Americans and eager to contribute to the community.”
According to The Detroit Free Press, the naturalization ceremonies included people from as far as Brazil, Nigeria. and Albania, while some were from as close as Canada.
“We have roots here,” Canadian Sonia Karwal told the Detroit Free Press after she was naturalized as an American citizen. “We love this country. We are proud of this country. Our children are here. Our lives are here.”
In York County, Pennsylvania, officials have also started holding citizenship ceremonies outdoors due to the ongoing public health crisis.