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Friday, August 19, 2022
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421 NEW CITIZENS NATURALIZED

On the eve of Emancipation and Independence days, 421 men and women from more than 40 countries have become citizens of the United States.
The new Americans, ranging in age from 19 to over 90 years old, took their oaths of citizenship at a packed ceremony Friday morning in the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium.
"If feel like I've just been born," said Iris Rosario, who came to the territory from the Dominican Republic in 1975. "I've been here a really long time and I'm not going to move from here."
Others said they became citizens so they would be able to voice their opinions at the ballot box and vote.
"I want to take part more in the political process," said Carr Forbes, who came from Nevis 16 years ago. "It's a good feeling to get closer to the United States dream."
Patriotic songs were interspersed among the speeches delivered by Senate President Vargrave Richards, V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christensen and St. Thomas Administrator Louis Hill.
"Citizenship really means responsibility … it demands participation, involvement and contribution," Richards said. "You are challenged to make a difference and to understand that no one can make a difference without being involved."
Richards also warned the new citizens that everyone in the community shares in the territory's economic problems and solutions.
"Realize you have become part of a vibrant, colorful and energetic group," he said. "No other jurisdiction is as ethnically and racially mixed as the people of the Virgin Islands."
Christensen told the new citizens they have been granted the rights and freedoms of the United States.
"Today as you assume citizenship, your privileges are multiplied and your blessings overflow," Christensen said. "For many of us, these islands have afforded us the opportunity to become citizens of the most powerful country on earth."
Representing Gov. Charles Turnbull, Hill also spoke about the ethnic diversity of the territory.
"The Virgin Islands is the melting pot of the Caribbean just as America is the melting pot of the world. America is great today because of its ethnic diversity," Hill said.
"The Virgin Islands has the same opportunity, we simply must grab it. We have brilliant people who live in the Virgin Islands who are full of intellect and full of energy, but we must harness it all," he said.
Ronald Parra, officer in charge of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization, said Friday's ceremony eliminated a five-year backlog of more than 1,000 applications for citizenship submitted in the Virgin Islands since 1995.
"You chose to be U.S. citizens, you didn't have to become U.S. citizens. You went through some long, difficult times to become U.S. citizens," Parra said. "You are very special people."
"I'm excited," said new citizen Brenda Elie, who arrived from Dominica six years ago. "It's really just for freedom, to get a better job and to be free."

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On the eve of Emancipation and Independence days, 421 men and women from more than 40 countries have become citizens of the United States.
The new Americans, ranging in age from 19 to over 90 years old, took their oaths of citizenship at a packed ceremony Friday morning in the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium.
"If feel like I've just been born," said Iris Rosario, who came to the territory from the Dominican Republic in 1975. "I've been here a really long time and I'm not going to move from here."
Others said they became citizens so they would be able to voice their opinions at the ballot box and vote.
"I want to take part more in the political process," said Carr Forbes, who came from Nevis 16 years ago. "It's a good feeling to get closer to the United States dream."
Patriotic songs were interspersed among the speeches delivered by Senate President Vargrave Richards, V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christensen and St. Thomas Administrator Louis Hill.
"Citizenship really means responsibility ... it demands participation, involvement and contribution," Richards said. "You are challenged to make a difference and to understand that no one can make a difference without being involved."
Richards also warned the new citizens that everyone in the community shares in the territory's economic problems and solutions.
"Realize you have become part of a vibrant, colorful and energetic group," he said. "No other jurisdiction is as ethnically and racially mixed as the people of the Virgin Islands."
Christensen told the new citizens they have been granted the rights and freedoms of the United States.
"Today as you assume citizenship, your privileges are multiplied and your blessings overflow," Christensen said. "For many of us, these islands have afforded us the opportunity to become citizens of the most powerful country on earth."
Representing Gov. Charles Turnbull, Hill also spoke about the ethnic diversity of the territory.
"The Virgin Islands is the melting pot of the Caribbean just as America is the melting pot of the world. America is great today because of its ethnic diversity," Hill said.
"The Virgin Islands has the same opportunity, we simply must grab it. We have brilliant people who live in the Virgin Islands who are full of intellect and full of energy, but we must harness it all," he said.
Ronald Parra, officer in charge of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization, said Friday's ceremony eliminated a five-year backlog of more than 1,000 applications for citizenship submitted in the Virgin Islands since 1995.
"You chose to be U.S. citizens, you didn't have to become U.S. citizens. You went through some long, difficult times to become U.S. citizens," Parra said. "You are very special people."
"I'm excited," said new citizen Brenda Elie, who arrived from Dominica six years ago. "It's really just for freedom, to get a better job and to be free."