A Publication of WTVP

This month, Bradley University will host a huge swearing-in ceremony of new American citizens.

Above: Chief U.S. District Judge James Shadid presides over a naturalization ceremony at Bradley University in April 2015, where nearly 600 people took the oath of U.S. citizenship.

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world as naturalized American citizens. During the last decade, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had more than 7.4 million people take the oath to become new American citizens, averaging between 700,000 and 750,000 per year.

On September 25, 2018, Bradley University will once again host—with Chief U.S. District Judge James Shadid presiding—the largest swearing-in ceremony of new American citizens in central Illinois at the Renaissance Coliseum. In April 2015, Bradley University hosted a similar U.S. naturalization ceremony in which 576 individuals from 97 countries took the oath to become new American citizens.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen
The process to become a U.S. citizen can be lengthy. The first step in the journey is to immigrate to America and become a legal permanent resident (green card holder), which can take a few years. Once you have your green card, you must establish permanent residency for five years before you can apply for naturalization, which is a process that can take an additional six months to a year.

To qualify for U.S. citizenship, you must possess good moral character, have basic knowledge of the English language, and have basic knowledge of U.S. history and government. After you pass the immigration test and interview, the final step is to attend a swearing-in ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance.

Swearing-in ceremonies are inspirational and powerful, not only for the participants, but for family members and everyone attending. The joy and pride is palpable. The anticipation that the long-awaited day has finally arrived fills the room with excited smiles and twinkles in eyes. It reminds all of us that the United States has always been a beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity for immigrants.

A Unifying Principle
Throughout America’s history, presidents from all political stripes have recognized this unifying principle. “I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong,” stated our nation’s first president, George Washington.

“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life,” noted our 35th president, John F. Kennedy. “Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans—liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal—the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history,” declared President George W. Bush. “Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.”

The September 25th swearing-in ceremony at Bradley University’s Renaissance Coliseum will held at 11:00am and is open to the public. If you want to witness this remarkable event and renew your gratitude and pride for the great country we live in, please join us. iBi