Against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s oldest structure, 30 immigrants from 26 countries became American citizens on Thursday, June 9.
The short outdoor ceremony was the first of its kind for the Wyckoff House Museum, although Museum Director Melissa Branfman pointed out that it was a very fitting venue. Not only has the house “welcomed and sheltered some of the country’s first immigrants, early Dutch settlers like the Wyckoff family in the 17th century,” Branfman said.
“It has seen waves of immigrants from all over the world make the city, and notably the neighborhood around it, their home.”
United States Magistrate Judge Vera Scanlon led the expatriates through a lengthy oath of allegiance and informed them of their new rights and responsibilities. She said that as new citizens they can now vote, run for office, get a federal job, and sit on a jury, but Scanlon hopes that the immigrants take up the responsibility to share their stories. Vote, run for office and share the story of their countries.
“I encourage you to exercise the right and responsibility to tell the world, tell the community, tell your children about where you are from,” the judge said. “You have chosen a long, long journey to come here and you are now Americans, but this country is made up of people from all over the world who don’t know that much about where you came from. If you share those stories, it’ll make the United States a richer place.”
As a newly minted citizen, Hassana says she plans to take advantage of her rights immediately and vote in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, Ayna Maynard, who immigrated from Trinidad, will be “doing what I always do: work and doing good.”