46 people from 28 countries countries became naturalized U.S. citizens at the University today, in a special naturalization ceremony administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Newark District.
President Christopher Eisgruber '83 opened the ceremony by welcoming newly-naturalized citizens from around the world, expressing “joy in welcoming you as fellow citizens.”
“Both of my own parents were immigrants to this country. Like you, they became citizens through naturalization,” Eisgruber reflected. He explained how he, too, had to take an oath committing himself to supporting the Constitution upon becoming president of the University.
“You and I will share in common that promise to support the Constitution of the United States,” Eisgruber said.
He invited everyone to "dedicate ourselves to the ideals that animate it” and to "challenge ourselves and our fellow citizens to live up to them fully.”
“Supporting the constitution is a demanding endeavor,” Eisgruber said, but also “an exhilarating project."
John Thompson, USCIS Director of the New Jersey District, prefaced his administration of the oath of allegiance.
"In a few moments, you will be rising one to become citizens of the greatest country you have seen," Thompson said. Thompson enumerated the countries of origin for the 46 people taking the oath: Albania, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and United Kingdom.
All 46 were asked to stand and say aloud the oath, with their right hand raised, before receiving individual certificates, making their new status official.
“I have the pleasure of reading your name out loud; I think that is the hardest job in this room,” joked Keith Dorr, Supervisory Immigration Services Officer.
One Princeton student, Masako Toyoda '18, and two members of Princeton faculty, were among those naturalized, as was a service member of the U.S. National Guard.
Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert congratulated the new citizens. "Some of you have faced great difficulties coming here … many of you are hoping for a better life, and each of you has a story to tell,” Lempert said.
Lempert pointed out the differences in the backgrounds of all Americans, but "what binds us together, is a shared belief, a belief in the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution … and hope in the ability to achieve the American Dream.”
“You are all choosing to become Americans in a challenging time for our country,” Lempert said, acknowledging the questions facing all Americans today.
“This ceremony is an affirmation of our best selves,” Lempert said. “Our diversity truly makes us stronger.”
"As Mayor, I encourage each of you to think not just nationally, but locally,” Lempert offered, inviting engagement in local communities and the imperative for action, particularly today.The only Princeton student to be naturalized today, Toyoda, came to the United States from Japan when she was two and received her green card around her sophomore year of high school. She applied for naturalization in September of 2016.
"I've been feeling 'American' for more than a decade now,” Toyoda reflected. "It feels strange to say the Pledge of Allegiance as an American citizen, something that I've been saying since third grade.”
The ceremony took place in Dodds Auditorium of Robertson Hall on April 12, 2017, at 10 a.m.