The day before the Fourth of July weekend, more than 100 immigrants officially became U.S. citizens at a ceremony in Tampa.
In the auditorium at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, men and women from 41 different countries gathered Friday to take the Oath of Allegiance, which asks new citizen to absolve loyalty to other nations.
Magistrate Judge Anthony administered the oath and spoke about his own experience as the grandson of an Italian immigrant.
He told the audience that he regretted that his grandfather had forbidden speaking Italian in the family home and hoped these citizens wouldn’t make the same mistake. He asked that they embrace and share their culture with their communities.
Porcelli added that even though the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case involving President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries that had no significance on how he felt after the ceremony.
“What it is about is the people who sacrificed to get to this point,” Porcelli said. “It always has the same, special meaning.”
Porcelli even took a selfie with the group of new citizens. He said it was the first time he had done so with any ceremony.
This was a wonderful group, so I figured I would indulge as the judge presiding over to do it,” he said.
Cheers filled the auditorium as the presiding officer read aloud the names of the countries each immigrant came from. Enthusiastic cheers from Columbia, Mexico and Honduras seemed to dominate, but every nation got their own applause from those in attendance.
Among those who received citizenship was Iris Liang, who is originally from China. She said that she immigrated to America for better opportunities for her education. She also said she was drawn to the freedoms and possibilities that come with being an American.
“Freedom of expression,” Liang said. “You can pretty much do anything if you work hard.”
Liang said that she would be spending her first Fourth of July by going out with her family.