By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — INA — Nearly 50 people from all over the world will converge on Rend Lake College later this month to officially become American citizens.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois will host a naturalization ceremony at 10 a.m. on June 28 at the college theater.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kenneth J. Meyers of Mt. Vernon will preside at the ceremony where the United States Custom and Immigration Services will welcome approximately 50 new citizens. Generally, the event is well-attended with those being naturalized as citizens bringing a large throng of family members.
Meyers has said the naturalization ceremony is a very inspiring event to watch.
"What's usually moving is to speak to people after the ceremony — they're just thrilled to death," he said, according to archives. "These people have worked hard for what we take for granted. We don't realize what it means to these people to become citizens of this country."
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to be eligible for naturalization an applicant must:
n Be 18 or older;
n Be a permanent resident, or green card holder, for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing an application for naturalization;
n Have lived within the state of the applicant’s place of residence for at least three months prior to the date of filing the application;
n Have continuous residence in the United States as a permanent resident for at least five years immediately preceding the date of the filing the application;
n Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application;
n Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization;
n Be able to read, write and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government; and
n Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law.
The service has been held several times at Mt. Vernon Township High School. Two services were held there in 2009, and another in October 2010.
Although the ceremony is an official court proceeding, the Court elects to host naturalization ceremonies at locations throughout the district several times each year to provide students and the public and opportunity to witness the naturalization process and learn more about how immigrants to the United States become citizens.
The Southern District of Illinois is one of three federal judicial districts in Illinois and is comprised of the 38 southernmost counties.