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Ogden hosts naturalization ceremony, 123 new US citizens sworn in

By Tim Vandenack - | Mar 31, 2023
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A contingent of 123 immigrants took the oath of allegiance, shown here, to become U.S. citizens on Thursday, March 30, 2023. The ceremony was held at Union Station in Ogden.
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A contingent of 123 immigrants took the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens on Thursday, March 30, 2023. The ceremony was held at Union Station in Ogden and this photo shows one of the new citizens getting a citizenship certificate from Michael Crabtree, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office director in Salt Lake City.
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A contingent of 123 immigrants took the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens on Thursday, March 30, 2023. The ceremony, pictured here, was held at Union Station in Ogden.

OGDEN — As a freshly minted U.S. citizen, Mario Martin del Campo is ready and raring to increase his involvement.

“It’s time for us to go out and make a change in our communities,” said the Orem man, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

Julia Escalona of Herriman is appreciative of the sacrifices it took to get here. A native of the Philippines, she’s been in the United States for 13 years and is also a new citizen.

“I am so grateful for the sacrifices my family has made,” she said. “I am so, so grateful to know I’m an American.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials traveled to Ogden on Thursday to hold a naturalization ceremony, swearing in Martin del Campo and Escalona — who briefly addressed the crowd — plus 121 others as new U.S. citizens. The 123 immigrants come from 46 countries around the globe.

Ogden was picked to host the ceremony because of the relatively high concentration of immigrants in the city, according to Mike McBride, who handles communications for the city. The willingness of local leaders to take part also figured.

Such ceremonies regularly take place at USCIS offices in Salt Lake City. In fact, it’s the first time Ogden has hosted such a ceremony, according to a press release from the City of Ogden, and Mayor Mike Caldwell was on hand to help mark the occasion.

“Congratulations to all of you, to all of the work you put into this,” Caldwell said, referencing the “amazing” stories he suspects are behind the new citizens’ journeys to the United States. The ceremony was held at Union Station in Ogden, drawing the would-be citizens and a sizable contingent of supporters.

Caldwell also encouraged them to get involved, a theme repeated several times over the course of Thursday’s ceremony. “Be a participant,” the mayor said. “I encourage you all to get involved and run for office.”

League of Women Voters representatives were present to help register the new citizens to vote. Helen Moser, voter services director for the League of Women Voters of Salt Lake, encouraged those on hand to exercise their right to weigh in at the ballot box and, more generally, to be involved.

“Make sure you show up. Make sure your voice is heard,” she said. “You bring such a unique perspective.”

Karen Thurber, a member of the League of Women Voters of Weber County, said registration drives at naturalization ceremonies are meant to instill a sense of importance with regard to one of the key civic responsibilities of U.S. citizens — voting. Typically, she said, new citizens are eager to register.

Daron Nelson, USCIS supervisory immigration services officer, helped lead the swearing in of the immigrants. They all stood up at the same time, held their right hand aloft and repeated back the U.S. oath of allegiance as he read it to them.

“Congratulations, my fellow Americans,” Nelson said at the end of the oath. The contingent clapped and cheered.

Eva Millona, head of the USCIS Office of Citizenship, Partnership and Engagement, encouraged the new citizens to “dream big.” She, herself, is an immigrant from Albania. “Your journey as a citizen of this great nation begins now,” she said.

Though now Americans, Natalie El-Deiry, director of immigration and new American integration within the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, stressed the importance of the new citizens holding onto their native culture and faith. The distinctive background of immigrants “adds to the tapestry of our great state in Utah,” she said.


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