27 immigrants granted citizenship at Mammoth Cave Naturalization Ceremony

20 different countries were represented in the ceremony from Vietnam to Belarus.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 11:03 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Though it was 27 immigrants that entered the Methodist Church in the Mammoth Cave system Thursday, it was 27 United States citizens that left during the cave’s first Naturalization Ceremony post-pandemic.

“Perhaps some of you came seeking refuge from oppression or persecution. Some of you may have been seeking new opportunities, or simply wanting a better life for you and your family,” said Mammoth Cave Deputy Superintendent, Jay Grass. “Regardless of your reasons, we simply say ‘Welcome and thank you for coming’.”

20 different countries were represented in the ceremony from Vietnam to Belarus.

When asked what the most difficult part of the citizenship process was, many said the process was actually fairly simple.

“I think it’s easy, people don’t need to know too much. They just read like a whole hundred questions,” said Xiayu Lyn, who is originally from China and was granted citizenship during the ceremony. “The [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] Officer, they really care about the people, they are very nice.”

For those that have been in the states for some time, the new citizenship is a weight off their chest.

“There’s this sort of burden that you feel when you know at any moment, you could get deported,” said Whalen Kanyandekwe, who is originally from Rwanda and was granted citizenship during the ceremony. “There is some uncertainty that comes with just being a permanent resident, that goes away the moment that you become a citizen. It’s pretty exhilarating.”

With immigration again becoming a hot topic for the nation, United States District Court Judge Greg Stivers, who presided over the ceremony, said while America may not be perfect, he hopes it will welcome its new citizens with open arms.

“I saw a quote from a renowned historian, David McCullough, who said ‘keep in mind that when bad news is riding high, and despair is in fashion, 90% or more of Americans are good people, generous hearted, law-abiding citizens who care about their neighbors’,” Stivers said. “I think each of you and your families will find this to be true, that the vast majority of Americans have, and we’ll continue to welcome you as our country’s newest citizens.”

For more information on the citizenship process, visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.