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Nearly 30 people gain US citizenship during naturalization ceremony in Rock Island

Chief Judge for the US District Court Judge Sara Darrow presided over the ceremony, and she said that it was a breath of fresh air and an honor for her.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — 28 people gathered in Rock Island Wednesday afternoon for a naturalization ceremony, hosted by Chief Judge for the US District Court Judge Sara Darrow.

"Many of them have been on this journey for a long time, have lived in this community in the United States for at least five years in most cases, have passed have passed all the tests and have earned the citizenship which was recognized here today," Judge Darrow said.

These ceremonies are a breath of fresh air for Judge Darrow.

"It's an unmatched energy of joy and celebration and optimism," she continued. "And those are not the typical emotions felt in a criminal courtroom setting, all serious, but more somber types of proceedings. And so for me personally, it's truly one of the greatest honors that my position allows me to do is to preside over these and be the first person to say, 'Welcome my fellow Americans.'" 

Between 28 and 40 people are usually a part of each naturalization ceremony, but COVID-19 forced temporarily forced the ceremonies to go remote.

"Pre-COVID, we would have it about three times a year. Because during the pandemic we went with a lot of remote ceremonies," Judge Darrow added. Then during the pandemic, we had one ceremony here in the park, just to allow for social distancing. And it was such a beautiful venue and such an exciting day that we decided to expand it and kind of put it into our permanent rotation."

The new citizens came from 14 different countries for Wednesday's ceremony.

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