Photo: Jonathan Blanc NYPL
The new citizens—including 15 active members of the US military—were naturalized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at The New York Public Library’s newly-transformed central circulating branch
The Independence Day ceremonies have been a tradition between the Library and USCIS since 2014
Days before the Fourth of July, 40 immigrants from 22 countries raised their right hands and became American citizens at a special Independence Day naturalization ceremony at The New York Public Library’s central circulating branch in midtown Manhattan.
The newest citizens are mostly from Manhattan and the Bronx, and include 15 active members of the US military—come from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
They waved small American flags as they took the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony, one of more than 140 naturalization ceremonies welcoming more than 6,600 new citizens held across the country by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) between July 1 and July 8 to celebrate Independence Day.
In New York City, USCIS has partnered with The New York Public Library—an institution dedicated to offering education, information, and opportunity to all New Yorkers—on annual Independence Day naturalization ceremonies since 2014. It aligns with programming the Library offers all year long to support immigrants, non-English speakers, and aspiring citizens: ESOL and citizenship classes, resources to prepare for obtaining citizenship, and more.
This year’s ceremony was the second held at the Library’s central circulating branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) at 455 Fifth Avenue, which officially opened in June 2021 following a transformative renovation. The ceremony took place in the building’s rooftop programming space overlooking midtown Manhattan.
USCIS New York Deputy Director Scott Velez administered the Oath of Allegiance and New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx made welcome remarks
“Today is truly a celebration – not just of the start of our country, its ideals and its history—but also of its future, as we welcome this next generation of American immigrants, ” said Scott Velez, the Deputy District Director of the USCIS New York District. “We are grateful to the New York Public Library for making this such a memorable event for the new citizens who have voluntarily chosen to participate in American democracy – including 15 U.S. military members who volunteered to fight for our rights even before enjoying those rights themselves.”
“The traditional Independence Day naturalization ceremony that we host with USCIS is one of my favorite days of the year,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “To see immigrants from so many diverse walks of life come together to excitedly receive their citizenship and eagerly embrace the responsibilities that come with being active participants in our democracy of informed citizens is incredibly invigorating. There is no more appropriate way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than to celebrate the principle that makes it unique: opportunity for all. And there is no more appropriate location than a public library, which works every day to ensure everyone has access to the knowledge they need to open those doors of opportunity. Congratulations to our newest citizens; it is our honor to be part of your journey.”
The Library first hosted an Independence Day ceremony with USCIS in 2014; with the exception of a few years—including 2020 because of the pandemic—the two have partnered to make the ceremony an annual tradition.
In addition to the ceremony, the Library is celebrating the nation’s 246th birthday throughout July with its free Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures, which includes several rare documents tied to the country’s founding:
- A copy of the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson hand-wrote to send to a select group of friends. The copy includes several passages that were removed at ratification; Jefferson underlines them to highlight their removal.
- One of the earliest printings of the Declaration of Independence
- An original copy of the Bill of Rights
Free timed tickets for the permanent exhibition—located at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building—are available at nypl.org/treasures. Please note the Library is closed from Saturday, July 2 through Monday, July 4.
About The New York Public Library
For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.
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