Dozens of new immigrants become U.S. citizens at Harriet Island ceremony

Immigrants take the oath of allegiance.
New immigrants follow Judge Steven E. Rau in taking the oath of allegiance in Harriet Island Park on Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

More than 80 people from around the world became United States citizens during a ceremony on St. Paul's Harriet Island on Wednesday.

After U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau administered the Oath of Allegiance, he addressed the new citizens, who came from countries including Ecuador, Peru, Kenya, Zambia, Nepal, Poland, Pakistan and China.

The judge said he has a personal interest in the naturalization process because of his Irish and German heritage. He said when his grandfather came to the U.S. after fighting for Germany in World War I, he arrived with a cardboard suitcase and experienced anti-German sentiment in rural Minnesota.

Safiyo Mohamed with Judge Steven Rau.
Newly naturalized citizen Safiyo Mohamed poses for a picture with Rau.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Rau said he wanted to highlight the opportunities all immigrants have when they arrive in the United States.

"The point is, about the opportunity that this country provided my Irish and German ancestors: These new immigrants, then, came here. They built communities, churches, schools, hospitals, and business. They had differences. Sometimes they didn't like each other very much, as my grandfather found when he came here after World War One. But they shared a love for this country and the opportunity that it provided. And a desire to give their children and grandchildren a better life. And in large measure, they succeeded. So every day, after today, you will enjoy the benefits and the sacrifices that were made by earlier generations of immigrants to this country. It's now your turn, your turn to enrich this country with your differences. And the strength that differences bring to this country through unity."

The judge asked the new citizens to not only reap the benefits of citizenship, but also to assume the responsibilities. He said by contributing to their communities and showing tolerance and compassion, these new citizens will continue the American Dream.

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