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Contact: Cam Juarez
This Fourth of July, 22 people from 8 countries became United States citizens in a special ceremony held at Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain District. This was the 10th such ceremony held in partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Saguaro National Park.
The naturalization ceremony took place in the park’s visitor center at 9 a.m., with citizenship granted to immigrants from France, Iraq, Panama, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom. The Honorable Judge Bruce G. Macdonald presided over the naturalization ceremony which included remarks from Saguaro National Park Acting Superintendent Jeff Conn, and keynote speaker, Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly.
Superintendent Conn welcomed the new citizens noting, “the Declaration of Independence’s words have long been a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many in this country. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is important to never take these words and rights for granted.” Conn went on to say that, “These national park units are a collective expression of where we have been, what sacrifices have been made to get here, how our values have evolved and a pledge to tell the stories yet to be told.”
Pima County Recorder Cázares-Kelly asked, “What could be more patriotic than becoming a U.S. Citizen in a National Park on July 4th?" "Becoming a U.S. Citizen in a National Park and getting registered to vote on July 4th !!”, she noted enthusiastically.
Judge Macdonald spoke about what citizenship means to him. “To me freedom and liberty come to mind – and with that liberty comes opportunity. The opportunity to pursue our dreams, the opportunity to accomplish all that we can, limited only by our ability to achieve.” He also encouraged the citizens to embrace their rights as Americans, to use their votes as their voice in our political process, and to sit on a jury of peers as part of our justice system.
After the ceremony, the new citizens and their friends and families celebrated momentarily before heading out. Park staff and volunteers served red, white and blue cupcakes and refreshments, generously donated by Friends of Saguaro National Park, the non-profit fundraising partner of the park. Some new citizens purchased t-shirts and took selfies with their families.
Martha, a new citizen, shared her thoughts about becoming a naturalized citizen. “I became a naturalized citizen on the birthday of the United States of America.” She noted her gratitude to all the young people working in the national park and expressed interest in coming back for hikes with her family.
The partnership that the National Park Service and USCIS have developed, helps to promote citizenship ceremonies by holding them in national parks throughout the country. “We introduce new US citizens to some of the nation’s most spectacular natural and cultural resource sites. These historic and picturesque sites provide an ideal backdrop for citizenship ceremonies, where new citizens can learn about and reflect on American identity and the responsibilities of citizenship,” said Cam Juárez, Community Engagement Coordinator for Saguaro National Park.
Last updated: July 5, 2023