BOSTON (AP) — Nearly 400 immigrants became U.S. citizens Thursday during a swearing-in ceremony inside historic Faneuil Hall.
Federal Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell, speaking after the crowd recited the oath of allegiance in unison, said the richly decorated hall was an appropriate venue for the occasion.
“This was the birthplace of our liberty, where others called out for freedom,” he said, alluding to the fiery speeches Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty delivered as the American colonies marched toward rebellion from the British government.
The immigrants came from dozens of countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe.
Dongmin Yang, of Wakefield, was among those singled out for special recognition. The South Korean native, who came to the U.S. in 2001, serves in the Army National Guard.
Dressed in his fatigues and joined by his pregnant wife and young son, Yang said afterward that he is looking forward to a career in the armed forces.
“In Korea, it’s mandatory to go to the army. So we have a saying that you have to go to the army to become a man,” he said. “That’s what I hope to do.”
A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman said roughly 20,000 citizens are naturalized each year in Massachusetts. Faneuil Hall is among a number of regular locations for the ceremonies, with large crowds on hand for the near-weekly events.
Outside the hall, newly-minted Americans were greeted Thursday by crowds of cheering family and friends. Members of a local immigrant activist group were registering new citizens to vote.
Jorge Santana, of Revere, was among those filling out a voter registration form as his 10-year-old son and wife looked on.
A native of the Dominican Republic, the auto mechanic is working toward a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.
Santana said he has waited seven years for this day: “For me this is everything.”
Copyright 2015 Associated Press