August 14, 2012

County Clerk’s Naturalization Ceremony is a gold medal winner for newest U.S. Citizens

WHITE PLAINS, NY: While millions watched athletes compete from around the world for gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Olympics in London,  one hundred and twenty new U.S. citizens were naturalized in a courtroom in White Plains.  The ceremony, administered twice a month by the Office of the Westchester County Clerk, officially grants citizenship to new citizens who have successfully fulfilled all of the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  “Becoming a U.S. citizen is a gold medal achievement, fulfilling their own American dream,’ said County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni.

Much can be said about the festive and celebratory atmosphere of the naturalization ceremonies. Families, loved ones, friends and colleagues come to join in the achievement of this important milestone by the new citizens.  For Delores Young, who came here from Jamaica seven years ago, having two of her seven children here to witness her become officially “a part of a great country,” was a joy to behold.  Young, who resides in Yonkers, felt it important to experience her golden moment by becoming a citizen of the country she has come to love because all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were born in the United States.

While most people become U.S. citizens by birth within the United States or to U.S. citizen parents, others become U.S. citizens by naturalization. Naturalization is the process by which United States citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national when they fulfill the requirements.  These requirements include a period of residency within the United States, the ability to read, write and speak English, and an understanding of United States history. In addition, all naturalization applicants must demonstrate good moral character.

For many in attendance at the August ceremony, obtaining their U.S. citizenship was a long sought desire.  Take for instance, Ferenc Forintos, born in Hungary, who arrived in the U.S. twelve years ago.  Currently living in New Rochelle, Forintos credits his fiancée and her family for encouraging him to seek citizenship and fulfill many of his dreams. “My fiancée is from the States and she has always urged me to do this and I’m overjoyed that I did and to have her and her family here today is very special,” said an elated Forintos, who works in finance and hopes that with his citizenship, he can now pursue his long held dream of working for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

As one of the greatest and most memorable Olympics comes to a close in spectacular fashion in London, for Jennifer Ann Cox, born in the country hosting this year’s games, there is no other place to be than here pledging allegiance to her adopted new country.   Coming to America twenty-three years ago, Cox, who resides in Katonah, was asked why she decided now to become a U.S. Citizen, to which she replied, “I feel American. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived in the U.K and I know I am going to be here forever.”

The feelings expressed by the new citizens participating in the naturalization ceremony can best be summed up by Cox, who planned to celebrate “with a nice cold beer and lunch at Legal Sea Foods!” along with her friends who came to cheer her on “Olympic games-style” at the Richard J. Daronco Courthouse.

For information on applying for citizenship, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' website or call (800)375-5283. For information about the naturalization ceremonies conducted by Westchester County Clerk’s office visit and click on the Services tab or call (914)995-3087.