Home of New Jersey’s first governor hosts first naturalization ceremony
UNION, N.J. – Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University, the historic home of New Jersey’s first governor, was a fitting backdrop for a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Naturalization Ceremony on Monday, June 20. Thirty-five immigrants from 22 countries were sworn in as citizens of the United States outside the home of William Livingston, which has welcomed nine U.S. presidents, including George Washington as he headed to New York City for the nation’s first inauguration.
“I thank Kean University, one of the most ethnically-diverse universities in this country, for hosting us on this special occasion and in this beautiful place,” said U.S. Representative Albio Sires, a naturalized citizen from Cuba who was the keynote speaker. “To think that this place goes back to 1772, and all the history that is here. Today, you are making history as you are sworn in as an American citizen.”
Kean University Board of Trustees Chair Ada Morell recalled her own journey from Cuba to the U.S. to “become part of this amazing, supportive and prosperous nation.”
“I know the excitement, the nervousness and even a little bit of disbelief that you are probably feeling today,” she said. “I also know the joy and the pride you will feel at the conclusion of today’s ceremony.”
This was the first naturalization ceremony held at Liberty Hall, on a picture-perfect first day of summer, which coincided with World Refugee Day. The ceremony took place in a tent strewn with glittering white lights on the Liberty Hall grounds.
“This was so much more than I expected,” said Taissa Vaz of Elizabeth, who emigrated from Brazil. “It was wonderful and beautiful.”
All of the new citizens who took the United States Oath of Allegiance at Liberty Hall Museum live in Union County. They were born in the following countries: Algeria (1); Angola (1); Brazil (2); Colombia (1); Costa Rica (1); Cuba (1); Dominica (1); Dominican Republic (3); Ecuador (2); El Salvador (2); France (1); Ghana (1); Guyana (1); Haiti (5); Italy (1); Nicaragua (1); Nigeria (1); Peru (2); Philippines (1); Portugal (4); St. Kitts-Nevis (1); Ukraine (1).