The new American melting pot

Jan 14, 2005

More than 400 new citizens from 65 countries were sworn in at a naturalization ceremony on campus Friday, Jan. 14.

In what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Detroit District Director Carol Jenifer called the largest group of people sworn in as U.S. citizens so far in 2005, 401 people from 65 countries took part in a naturalization ceremony at Kettering University Friday, Jan. 14. More than 900 total were in attendance.

"Unlike those of us born here," Jenifer said, "you chose to become U.S. citizens. It is humbling to stand here and talk to you." U.S. Congressman Dale Kildee welcomed those assembled in many languages and thanked them for becoming citizens. "We are a nation of immigrants," said Kildee, "those of you here today show the diversity of America, and we are enriched by it."

Citing his own family's immigration from Ireland, Kildee wondered if his grandparents ever thought one of their grandchildren would become a U.S. Congressman. "I know that you and your families will live out your own version of the American Dream," he said.

Juan Mestas, chancellor of the University- Michigan-Flint, wove the new citizens into the fabric of America during his keynote address by using his own immigration from Cuba as an example. "My name is Juan Mestas," he said, "it is an American name. The accent I speak with is an American accent in a country of many accents. I became an American," said Mestas, "not out of convenience, but out of love."

Mestas told the new Americans "we were all created equal but different, different but equal, and that is good. Be proud of your color, it is an American color, be proud of your accent, it is an American accent, be proud of your name, it is an American name. Welcome to the American Family."

The campus host was Dr. David Doherty, vice president of International Relations andGovernmentalActivities. Deborah Pascoe, executive director of the International Institute of Flint, served as emcee for the event. The swearing-in ceremony was conducted by Federal Judge Paul V. Gadola.
Representatives of Social Security, Immigration, Voter Registration and the U.S. Post Office (passports) were on hand to provide services for the new citizens including changing their Social Security status to that of 'citizen' and registering to vote.

Written by Dawn Hibbard