BALTIMORE — The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIC) celebrated 22 children who became new citizens of the United States of America in a ceremony at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) on October 31, 2019.
USCIC Deputy Associate Director Michael Valverde administered the Oath of Allegiance to the children from 17 different countries, including: Cameroon, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Monsterrat, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Russia and Vietnam.
“Today these special 22 children have the opportunity to join the United States and be welcomed by us,” Valverde said. “They are part of our American family, and the opportunities that come from that are unbelievable and unimaginable. Every ceremony is a big deal, and we can actually watch America grow a little bit smarter, stronger, and richer.”
Twelve-year-old Ilian Asong of Prince George’s County came to receive his citizenship certificate. He attended the event with his mother, Rita Folefac, who is from Cameroon.
“Bringing him here is really special because he has the opportunity to experience this,” Folefac said. “As parents, we always try to let our children know they matter. We say it on a regular basis, but when the child gets it from another person, it impacts him more.”
The citizenship certificates will provide the young Americans with additional documentation needed when it’s time to apply for driver’s license, a job, college or a passport.
All of the new citizens are under the age of 14.
Asong will need the certificate one day because he has big plans.
“I want to be an IT engineer when I grow up,” Asong said.
After the ceremony, families explored the museum.
Since 1981, BMI has welcomed visitors to witness the exhibitions, participate in hands on activities and learn more about Baltimore’s industrial legacy. Museum officials say it was fitting to hold the ceremony at the BMI because of Baltimore’s early legacy as a city of immigrants.
“This is a great day. We are so excited to be a part of the American community,” said Folefac.