Newly Naturalized Citizens Full Of Hope, Apprehension

Packed nine rows deep in the auditorium, the 80 soon-to-be United States citizens fidgeted with the crisp white envelopes holding the text for the oath of allegiance, instructions on applying for a passport, a congratulatory message from the president. The screen above the stage projected the words "Celebrate Citizenship. Celebrate America."

The ceremony began with a video, then everyone sang the national anthem. The participants' countries of origin were called, Afghanistan to Yemen. The men and women stood, straight and tall, their right hands raised to recite the oath, the final step for these immigrants to become citizens.

"I hereby declare ..."

The low-key, regimented naturalization ceremony such as the one Wednesday morning happens several times a week inside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building on Congress Parkway in the South Loop. Since Donald Trump was elected president, hundreds of immigrants living in northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana have been handed their certificate of citizenship.

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