Forty immigrants from countries, including Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, Nigeria, and 12 others from around the world, were honored with American citizenship, and presented with certificates on Constitution Day, Friday Sept. 17 during a naturalization ceremony at King Manor Museum, in Jamaica, Queens.
Barbadian-born, Toni Blackman-Cox, an information technology manager, who immigrated to Brooklyn from the parish of St. Michael in 2005, told Caribbean Life “it feels great to be an American citizen, where my one-year old daughter was born.”
Blackman-Cox who was already trained in the technology field, realized the American dream earlier on, by completing her studies to earn a degree in Computer Information Systems.
Like her, Jamaica native Jean Daley, a home health aid, arrived in the U.S. nine years, and worked diligently towards becoming an American citizen. She was beaming with joy, as she expressed how wonderful it felt to be accepting a certificate of citizenship.
United States Military CSC Missions Petroleum specialist, Rukmine Oudhilall, a Guyanese, who spent three years in military service to America, said it was a privilege.
The Queens resident, who raised her right hand and pledged the oath of allegiance to the United States of America, expressed how awesome it was to become a U.S. citizen.
“It feels so good to become an American citizen. It is a dream of every individual to become a United States citizen, and I am proud of my wife, who come all the way to Nigeria, to bring me here, and inspire me to join the United States military, because of the good opportunity,” said Avinze Nwagjuaku.
“I am happy to be a citizen, and I pledge I will uphold, the constitution of the United States,” he added joyfully.
Ingrid Stochmal, acting field officer director, Queens field office, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, who served as emcee, congratulations the new citizens, before calling the Hon. Judge Sanket J. Bushara to the podium.
“Today is a remarkable day, said Judge J. Bushara. You are 40 citizens from around the world, from small island nations, to large countries where a billion people live,” said the arbiter of the diverse Eastern District of New York, of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and Long Island, where over eight people million live.
He told the new citizens that many of the judges in the eastern district, including him, are the sons and daughters of immigrants whose parents were not wealthy or prestigious, but who simply had a dream for their children, and were able to convey to them, the importance of education and hard work, to see their dreams come true.
“One of the judges of our court, took the oath of citizenship in the very court house where she is now a chief,” he said, adding that his parents came to the United States from India in 1969, and became citizens.
“I am glad they took this first step to make it possible for me to become a judge. I know that this must be a happy day of celebration for each of you, whereas I am sure you will hold close to your hearts your native lands, its people and its customs, as you should.”
“You have all made this decision to embrace the United States of America as your country. This country is richer for all the traditions and history that you bring from your native lands.”
In his verbose remarks, Judge Bushara, called on the citizens to be active and participate in ‘this democracy of ours, to safeguard it by exercising your freedoms by voting and by speaking out when you believe your voice and opinions should be heard.”
“I urge you to take seriously, and perform the other duties of citizenship. It maybe that some of you are called to my courtroom to serve on juries, the right to jury in a criminal case, is one of the most fundamental protections of our constitution.”
Quoting former President Barack Obama, who spoke of Sen. McCain’s duel citizenship, and what it meant to be American, he said.
“John McCain understood, as JFK understood, as Ronald Regan understood what makes our country great is that our citizenship is not based on our bloodline, not on what we look like, or what our last names are, or based on where our parents and grandparents came from, but by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”
“This country embraces you and blesses you with the freedoms and protection and guarantees of the United States of America, and its constitution among those, the freedom and speech, expression, religion, and the right to be free from unjustified intrusion by the government into your homes and personal lives, he said.
“We hear in the news about crime, poverty, pollution of our politics, and all manner of problems. Those problems are serious and real, but let me assure you, that this country still holds the promise for a better life for you and your children.”
“It is possible to achieve great success though hard work and perseverance. It is my hope for all of you and your children that you share to the fullest in this American dream and may all of your dreams come through. Congratulations,” she said.
Executive Director of the King Manor Museum, Kelsey Brow, welcomed the nationals to the museum, noting that it was their first destination as citizens.
“We are delighted you are here. We appreciate the heart and passion that you bring here today and we are happy to be celebrating American citizenship with you. We hope you will return with your families,” she said.
“We hope you are excited as we are that you are at King Manor Museum. You are about to connect with history, and an important founding father of American. Today is citizenship day, declared by Harry Truman on Sept. 17, 1787, said Roy Fox caretaker of King Manor Museum, who spoke passionately of Rufus King, the distinguished figure in the nation’s early history, as he acknowledged the constitution’s 234th anniversary.
Attorney-at-law Andrea Ogle, who was honored on Constitution Day 2019, and was nominated for judgeship in the countywide jurisdiction, was a special guest of naturalization Ceremony.
The member of the bar, who will be on the Nov. 2, 2021 ballot, expressed gratitude to the staff of King Manor Museum for recognizing her work in the community, and congratulated the new citizens.
Brittany Lester sang The Star Spangler Banner national anthem.