Monday, March 27, 2017

Citizenship @ the Library

Once a month at Valdez Hall in downtown Fresno, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hold a Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony where anywhere from 200 to 1200 new Americans take their oaths of allegiance. On March 11, 2017, the Fresno County Public Library hosted a Citizenship Ceremony at the Orange Cove Branch. 20 new citizens took their oaths, including 14 minors, receiving their citizenship through their parents, and 6 naturalized adults.


Registration began the moment the library doors opened. Everyone has to check in. They hand over their Permanent Resident Card and take care of some other paperwork business with USCIS. This day is something that naturalized citizens work towards for years. Sometimes they have to learn a second language. They also have to take a civics test, a reading test and a writing test during their final interview with USCIS. On top of all that, it is not inexpensive to file for naturalization. While it's a little bit easier for the children who obtain citizenship through their parents, it does require paperwork, a USCIS interview and a fee. Becoming a U.S. Citizen is no easy task.

During registration, the Library offered some activities for everyone to participate in while they waited for the ceremony to begin. At one station, Children's Librarian Allie offered a Dreamcatcher craft where kids could create their very own dreamcatcher.
For the older kids, Teen Programming Librarian, Misha provided a ceramic tile craft. The crafters chose a tile and a pattern, symbol, design or picture to graft to the tile. Here's a picture of the kids making the tiles and of the finished products!

One of the coolest things about the citizenship
ceremonies is WoW!'s world map. We bring out that map to all of our citizenship ceremonies and have every new citizen designate their home country with a small star. It's a great visual representation of the amazing diversity of Fresno County!


Right around noon, the ceremony began. After the Star Spangled Banner, WoW! Librarian Michelle gave some opening remarks on behalf of the library. She spoke about her experiences working with the immigrant communities in Fresno County and how their journeys have inspired her. Then it was time for two other FCPL librarians to provide some fun. Allie Marques, the Children's Librarian for the Blossom Trail Cluster, provided a mini-story time where she read Bark, George for everyone to enjoy. Misha Hacke, the county-wide Teen Programming Librarian, gave a short book talk about Cinder.

Sofia Flores, USCIS Officer, presented the candidates for citizenship and Lynn Feldman, the Fresno Field Office Director, administered the Oath of Allegiance. At that moment, the candidates for citizen automatically become citizens. Everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance and then listened to our guest speaker, Victor Lopez, the Mayor of Orange Cove. Finally, the new citizens were presented with their Certificates of Citizenship. Each new citizen was called up, one at a time, where Sofia presented them with their certificates; then they were received by Lynn Feldman, Michelle Gordon and Victor Lopez.


It was a great day of celebration. FCPL is proud to partner with USCIS to hose these small citizenship ceremonies and looks forward to future ceremonies. 

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