Mayor Walsh Hosts Naturalization Ceremony and proclaims Boston "A City of Citizenship"

MIRA joins Mayor Walsh at City Hall ceremony to swear in 27 New Americans from 19 countries on Constitution and Citizenship Day

September 17, 2014 BOSTON — "I'll just share one story," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh this
morning to a group of immigrants who had just taken the oath of citizenship. "When I was beginning to enter politics, my mother had been hanging on to her green card for years and years, and she said, 'I guess I'll have to become a citizen now to vote for you one day.'" natzceremonyweb

The story drew a long laugh from the packed audience in the Eagle Room in the Mayor's Office at City Hall, which included city and federal officials, immigrant advocates, TV camera crews, and 27 naturalized Americans from 19 different countries, ranging from Aruba to New Zealand. But the story also neatly summarized the proud mood and profound message of the day - citizenship intertwines great benefits and great responsibilities Or, as Boston Health and Human Services Chief Felix Arroyo said in the ceremony's keynote remarks: "The process you went through, while arduous, is not the end but the beginning...One of your responsibilities now is to participate in our democracy."

It is with that ideal  that the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition has encouraged citizenship by sponsoring clinics across the state to assist qualified applicants complete the complicated paperwork. MIRA Executive Director Eva Millona noted in her remarks that three of the 27 immigrants taking the oath this morning had started the process at one of MIRA's clinics, including Peruvian mother-of-three Freis Binda Salazar and Salvadoran immigrant Jose Alberto Dominguez, who became a citizen within weeks of his wife and 30-year-old son doing the same. Both Ms. Salazar and Mr. Dominguez arrived in the early 1990s escaping brutal violence in their homelands, and both, as Ms. Millona put it, "are now taking the transformative step to become the fullest members of society that they can."

All the speakers, including presiding Magistrate Judge Page Kelly, of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and Denis Riordan, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services District 1, emphasized the symbolic importance of holding the event on Constitution and Citizenship Day. The special occasion was opened by City of Boston employee Edna Wilkie, who sang "The Star Spangled Banner" with melismatic swoops as a Boston Police Honor Guard in full regalia saluted the flag. It closed with a Scottish-tinged "America the Beautiful " performed by a member of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums, and a crystalline rendition of "God Bless America" by 12-year-old Cecila and 10-year-old Francisco Viana (children of MIRA interim Citizenship Coordinator Antonio Viana).

The day also held special significance, Ms. Millona noted, because it marked the launch of "Cities of Citizenship," a project by the National Partnership for New Americans, of which MIRA is a leading member, to facilitate the full support of several of our nation's mayors to assist immigrants to naturalize. Mayor Marty Walsh announced Boston's commitment with an official proclamation naming Boston a "City of Citizenship." Read by Alejandra St. Guileen, Director of the Office of New Bostonians, the proclamation announced the mayor's "hearty support" for the creation of a "Boston New Americans Campaign," to promote U.S. Citizenship and volunteerism.

Director St. Guillen noted that the city was putting the proclamation into practice with five citizenship clinics at Boston Centers for Youth and Families across the city on Saturday, co-sponsored by the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative and supported by MIRA. The clinics are in

East Boston - BCYF Paris Street Community Center
Roxbury - BCYF Vine Street Community Center
Jamaica Plain - BCYF Hennigan Community Center
Mattapan - BCYF Mildred Avenue Community Center
Dorchester - BCYF Leahy-Hollaran Community Center
Call 617-635-2980 for more information

The clinics hope to help hundreds of immigrants complete the citizenship papers, so they can join the 27 immigrants from all corners of the globe who came together in City Hall to proudly raised their right hands today. "I want to congratulate you all, and thank you,' said USCIS Director Denis Riordan. "We are a stronger nation because today we have 27 new citizens."