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Date: July 6, 2019
Contact: Cam Juarez, (520) 306-6254

Embrace Citizenship – Experience America through Your National Parks

Tucson, AZ – This Fourth of July, 20 people from 18 countries became United States citizens in a special ceremony held at Saguaro National Park’s Tucson Mountain District. This was the ninth 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 Belarus, Afghanistan, Iraq, China, India, Mexico, Ghana, Iran, Eritrea, Hungary, Mauritania, the Philippines, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zambia. The Honorable Judge Bruce G. Macdonald presided over the naturalization ceremony, which included remarks from Saguaro National Park Superintendent Leah McGinnis, and U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who is also Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, as the keynote speaker.

Superintendent McGinnis, welcomed the new citizens noting, “the Declaration of Independence’s words have long been a beacon of hope and opportunity for millions around the world.  “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is important to never take these words and rights for granted.” McGinnis 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, the errors we have learned from and how our values have been forged from those lessons.” 

Recognizing the importance of having naturalization ceremonies in national parks, Superintendent McGinnis noted, “It is an honor to continue the tradition of hosting this special event here at Saguaro National Park. We hope these individuals return for a visit with their loved ones and embrace their citizenship through stewardship of their public lands.” 
The ceremony came to a close with Mariachi singer, Kiana Martinez performing a beautiful a cappella rendition of The National Anthem that clearly emoted pride from the candidates with their hands firmly over their hearts. 
After the ceremonies, the new citizens and their friends and families celebrated in the Red Hills Visitor Center. Park staff and volunteers served cake and refreshments, generously donated by Friends of Saguaro, a non-profit fundraising partner of the park. Some new citizens purchased t-shirts and stickers, while others went off site to celebrate with their families. Some of the new Americans shared their thoughts about becoming naturalized citizens. “I’m so happy and grateful that my husband and I had the opportunity to become American citizens on this commemorative day, not just for our Country, but for us as a family. This Park is so beautiful, we plan on coming back soon, as well as visiting other national parks,” said new citizen Patricia O’Dealee 
“The National Park Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have a formal partnership promoting citizenship ceremonies by holding them in national parks throughout the country. This partnership helps to introduce new 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. 


Saguaro National Park
3693 S.Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ  85730


Last updated: July 6, 2019

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3693 S Old Spanish Trail
Tucson , AZ 85730


(520) 733-5153

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