US Citizenship and Immigration Services District Director Mario Ortiz speaks to the candidates for citizenship Monday. Courtesy photo of the National Park Service
Naturalization Ceremony at Bandelier On The 4th of July
On July 4th, the traditional day when Americans celebrate freedom and independence, Bandelier National Monument once again partnered with the United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services to host a naturalization ceremony at the park. Twenty candidates, several who live in the Espanola Valley, having worked hard to fulfill their requirements, were able to take the oath and become the newest citizens of the United States.
The ceremony included addresses by Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, guest speaker Rogelio Anaya, US Citizenship and Immigration Services District Director Mario Ortiz, and the Chief US District Judge for the District of New Mexico, M Christina Armijo, who also officiated. Many members of the community made the ceremony possible, including Rotary, refreshments; Eagle Scouts from Troop 129, Color Guard; well-known local singer Alicia Solomon, the National Anthem; Flowers by Gillian, a local florist, provided flowers for the candidates; Western National Parks Association, gift bags.
The Herrera family from Cochiti Pueblo presented traditional dances, and the Candelaria family from San Felipe Pueblo demonstrated Pueblo crafts.
This year has seen a nationwide spike in legal immigrants applying for full citizenship. Many of the newly minted Americans lined up to register to vote immediately after taking their oath.