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New Americans From 13 Countries Become U.S. Citizens In Burlington

Annie Russell
Nineteen new American citizens stand before reciting their citizenship oath at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington.

A new batch of U.S. citizens were sworn in at a naturalization ceremony in Burlington last week. Nineteen new Americans participated in the ceremony at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington.

Among the state and local officials on hand to congratulate the group was former Governor Madeleine Kunin.

She lamented recent anti-immigration views in the national media and emphasized the importance of a diverse society.

"You're really helping us to enrich our society by your citizenship, by you joining us," said Kunin.

Herself an immigrantfrom Switzerland, Kunin noted the importance of participating in local and national elections.

And while she stopped short of endorsing a specific candidate, Kunin urged the group to vote in the 2016 Presidential election.

"There's an upcoming election, as you may have noticed. I urge you to help us pick the next President of the United States of the United States," said Kunin as the crowd chuckled. "And I'm not permitted to say more."

From 13 countries, many of the new Americans came to the U.S. through Vermont's Refugee Resettlement Program. 

"You're really helping us to enrich our society by your citizenship, by you joining us." - Former Gov. Madeline Kunin to new U.S. citizens

Of the 13, the United Kingdom was the only Western country represented. Instead, many of the new Americans hailed from the Middle East and Africa.

Bifoko Mamie Ngimbi was all smiles after the ceremony had concluded. 

She's from Congo-Kinshasa, but has been in the U.S. for close to 11 years. She says she's happy and relieved to be finished with the citizenship process, including the written test.

"You need to pass the test, the exam, everything before you become [a] citizen. So it takes a lot of process to do it," said Ngimbi.

Her children, Moses and Paulette, were underfoot. They had one thing to say about the afternoon:

"Good! Really good!"

While the kids said they were excited to watch their mom become a citizen, they were mostly looking forward to the celebratory lunch that followed.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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