NEW YORK—This year’s Valentine’s Day was an extra special for a group of New Yorkers. It was the day they became United States citizens.
Naturalization ceremonies took place at several venues around the city. At a U.S. courthouse in Brooklyn, 220 people were sworn in as citizens.
The citizens-to-be recited the Oath of Allegiance administered by United States District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. Garaufis welcomed the new citizens, especially the five couples who received their new citizenship together.
“You should celebrate this day not only because it’s Valentine’s day, but because it’s the day you embrace your new country, your new life.” he said.
Erjon and Olgerta Dardabella have been looking forward to this day for years. The couple moved to the U.S. five years ago from Albania and have two children together, one of whom was born in the United States.
“We’re going to remember this day for all our lives,” said Olgerta. “We got an education here [in the US], we got a good job. It’s an honor for us to be here.”
As citizens of the U.S., the Dardabellas can now vote, run for public office, and travel abroad more freely and for longer periods of time, as many countries do not require visas for U.S. citizens.
“Our next step? To travel the world because we have [U.S.] passports now,” said Olgerta.
Yi Yang is a special correspondent in New York.