UNION COUNTY, NJ — Thirty-three immigrants from 18 countries were sworn in as new American citizens in a naturalization ceremony on June 20 at Liberty Hall Museum, located on the campus of Kean University. Built in 1772, Liberty Hall was the home of New Jersey’s first elected governor and signer of the Constitution, William Livingston.
During the last 200 years, the 14-room Georgian Style home has grown into a 50-room Victorian-style mansion that serves as a museum housing extensive collections of antique furniture, ceramics, textiles, toys and tools owned by seven generations of the Livingston and Kean families.
The new citizens hail from Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Taiwan, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Speakers at the event included Paulo Correia, naturalization section chief for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Kean University trustee John Kean Jr.; Ada Morell, chairwoman of the Kean University board of trustees; and U.S. Rep Albio Sires, of the 8th Congressional District.
Kean University President Dawood Farahi lauded the new citizens.
“I see beautiful people from beautiful parts of the world,” he said at the ceremony. “I was sitting in the same seat as you in 1976. You will never be disappointed in being an American.”
Kean said that the citizens were the VIPs on that special day.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you to the house of the first governor of the state of New Jersey,” Kean said to the new citizens. “You’ve worked hard to achieve this important distinction as a U.S. citizen. Perhaps you’ve come from a country that has a longer history than ours, but the important distinction is that you’ve decided to become an American citizen.”
Kean spoke of the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen.
“As you take the oath today, you’ll be vested with the rights, privileges and duties of a citizen.”
Morell expressed delight at being a part of the ceremony.
“As I look out at all of you and your families, I am reminded of my own story, my own family, our own efforts to travel to the United States and become a part of this amazing, supportive and prosperous nation,” Morell said at the ceremony. “I became a U.S. citizen in 1973, 10 years after my family traveled to the U.S. from Cuba. I know the excitement, the nervousness, and even a little bit of the disbelief you are feeling today. I also know the pride and the joy you will feel at the conclusion of today’s ceremony.”