‘It’s a wonderful feeling’: More than 200 new citizens naturalized at Downtown courthouse

Worth the wait: Jovita Revilla (left) became a United States citizen after arriving in the country from the Philippines almost 20 years ago and celebrated outside Brooklyn Federal Court with her daughter Abby Salazar.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

They let freedom ring!

More than 230 people became United States citizens at a packed naturalization ceremony in Brooklyn Federal Court Thursday morning.

The Cadman Plaza E. courthouse was filled with brand new Americans hailing from all corners of the globe during the Aug. 22 event, which was presided over by Judge Pamela Chen, who spoke about the country’s strength through its diversity, according to one Queens woman in attendance.

“I thought it was nice for the judge to recognize that a lot of the people who were a part of this ceremony came from all different countries,” said Abby Salazar. “The diversity is what makes this country special and think that was a nice recognition.”

Salazar joined her mother Jovita Revilla, who came to The Land of Opportunity from the Philippines nearly 20 years ago and was delighted to receive her citizenship after all those years.

“It feels exciting. I’m happy, of course, and it’s almost two decades, so it’s a wonderful feeling that finally I’m an American citizen,” Revilla said.

Nasir Hussein and his mother Najma fled Burma as refugees some five years ago and were delighted to finally call America their home.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

The courthouse hosts large-scale naturalizations in its ceremonial courtroom four days a week, from Tuesday to Friday — sometimes twice a day — year-round. As many as 260 people attend the ceremonies, according to Ogoro Francis, a spokeswoman for the District Executive Office of the Eastern District of New York.

The street outside the building near Tillary Street was filled with elated families posing for pictures with their freshly-minted documents, which some of them received after leaving their countries to seek refuge in the U.S. of A.

One man and his mother fled Burma some five years ago and the two were relieved to finally have a country to proudly call their own after years in limbo.

“It’s overwhelming and emotional because finally we became permanent citizens,” said Nasir Hussein, who became an American along with his mother Najma. “Previously, you know, as a refugee you don’t have any state and any citizenship and now we finally got confirmed that this is our country and we can proudly say that the United States is our country.”

One mother, who came to the States from Colombia four years ago, celebrated her new nationality and said that citizenship will allow her to take care of her family.

“I am happy, it’s important for my life and it’s very good for my daughter and family that the United States is giving me this opportunity,” said Giovanna Triana, who was there with her daughter Nicole.

Giovanna Triana, posing with her daugher Nicole, arrived from Colombia four years ago and said she was happy to become an American citizen.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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