Jamaica welcomes new citizens

By Juan Soto

They became U.S. citizens under the same roof where Rufus King once lived, one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution.

“This is something I wanted to do forever,” said a smiling Alejandra Osorio, a Venezuelan natural.

She was one of 62 new American citizens from 17 nations that took the oath administered by Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, of the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of New York, under a white tent at the 11.5-acre Rufus King Park in downtown Jamaica Wednesday.

The date was special. President Harry Truman signed a bill in 1952 establishing Sept. 17, the day the U.S. Constitution was signed 227 years ago, as Citizen Day.

The naturalization ceremony, led by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was held at the King Manor Museum, which was home to three generations of the Rufus King family.

“We encourage you to participate in this democracy as once did Rufus King,” said Matsumoto. All of you, and your families, have endless possibilities.”

King was a New York senator and once Federalist candidate for president.

During the hour-long event, which began with Jesse Blumberg singing the national anthem, the new citizens received the naturalization certificates and heard a taped and televised congratulatory message from President Barack Obama.

He encouraged them “to be involved in your community and to promote the values that guide us as Americans.”

Elected officials that participated in the ceremony at the feet of the Georgian-style facade house also prompted the “newborn Americans” to register to vote and become community activists.

“We are a city that believes in civic associations, in activism,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “Register to vote because it is important to have a voice.”

“You should get involved in the community process,” said City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), who represents the district. “Today is also a day of responsibility.”

Out of the 62 new citizens, 24 were originally from Bangladesh.

There were also natives, among other countries, from Argentina, India, Jamaica, Greece and Pakistan.

“Becoming a citizen means that all the hard work my parents did to bring us to the United States paid off,” said Darshanie Sukhoo, from Guyana. “They gave us a better life,” she added, holding her newborn child.

Roy Fox, caretaker of the King Manor Museum, the oldest house in southeast Queens, said this day “created new citizens.”

“This is very special for me,” said Nicole Johnson, who came from Jamaica 13 years ago. “This means more opportunities and more doors open,” she added.

“I am very honored to share this moment with all these people here,” said Osorio, who came to the United States 22 years ago. “This is very important and I will have better opportunities in life.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.