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Brasser students welcome 20 new US citizens

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) presented 20 citizenship candidates originating from 13 countries to the Monroe County Family Court at a ceremony at Florence Brasser Elementary School on Flag Day, June 14.


The event began with Justice James E. Walsh providing opening remarks. He was followed by welcome speeches from Justice Charles Siragusa, Brasser Principal Timothy Young and Gates Chili Interim Superintendent Carol Stehm.


“Just like our great nation, Gates Chili is diverse and full of opportunity,” said Stehm. “We are honored to be a part of your story and your journey to citizenship.”


Students in grades K-5 then led the citizens and guests in the singing of “This Land Is Your Land.”


A motion was then made by a USCIS officer, followed by the administration of oaths from Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello, making the citizenship candidates official US citizens. The room of American citizens then recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The presentation of certificates of citizenship came next and the entire event was wrapped up with a final song by the fifth-grade band students who performed “America the Beautiful.”


Having the ceremony held in the Gates Chili Central School District made it an extra special day for Samirah Whalen. The newly-naturalized citizen and mom of four Neil Armstrong Elementary School students came to the US nine years ago from Indonesia.


“I’m proud to say I’m now an American citizen,” said Whalen. “Having my girls there watching me take my oath made it even more memorable. They know where I am from, and they know what an incredible journey it has been for me to get and make the US my home.”