201 new citizens from 59 countries were sworn in Tuesday by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered an inspiring speech about her own family’s immigrant roots which she said was “testament to our nation’s promise,” NBC News reported.
The country remains deeply divided on the immigration issue but inside the walls of the New York Historical Society the 85-year-old Ginsburg, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, offered hope and encouragement to those gathered for the citizenship ceremony.
“We are a nation made strong by people like you,” she told the newly minted citizens, per NBC News. “People who have traveled long distances, overcome great obstacles, and made tremendous sacrifices, all to provide a better life for themselves and their families.”
Adversity is something Ginsburg’s family knows about, having overcome great odds to find their place in the U.S.
Her father arrived in the country at 13 with no money and unable to speak English, while her mother was born four months after her parents arrived at Ellis Island from Poland.
Her speech moved several of the new U.S. citizens at the swearing-in ceremony.
“It was an emotional moment for me when she was giving her speech,” said Pranitha Mantrala, 35, who came to the U.S. from India, per The New York Daily News.
Mamadou Alpha Diallo, 25, from Guinea said he felt “so important” during the ceremony.
“Sitting in front of somebody so special, I felt so special. I feel like I’m in my own country now.”
Ginsburg decided she wanted to preside over a naturalization ceremony at the historical society after reading about a program available for citizenship applicants in The New York Times.
The Citizenship Project offers classes designed to help green card holders prepare for their naturalization exams.
Ginsburg said she thought this was a “grand idea” and contacted the New-York Historical Society and said she would gladly participate in a naturalization ceremony.
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