New U.S. citizens are sworn in in Old City

People participate in a naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House

Thirteen new citizens of the United States participated in a special naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More than a dozen immigrants took their oaths of citizenship Thursday in Philadelphia. The backdrop was one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

The 13 men and women from 10 different countries rang a bell during the ceremony at which they received their citizenship papers at the Betsy Ross House in Old City.

People participate in a naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House
Thirteen new citizens of the United States participated in a special naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Gonzalo Ramirez, from Mexico, has been in the United States for 21 years. He was happy to complete the citizenship process, which took him more than five years.

Gonzalo Ramirez shakes hands with Mayor Jim Kenney
Gonzalo Ramirez shook hands with Mayor Jim Kenney after becoming a United States citizen at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“I’ve been working so hard, it’s my dream. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. It’s not easy, [but] everybody can do it if I can do it,” Ramirez said.

Thayse Conte comes from Brazil and said she is happy to finally become a citizen.

“It feels amazing. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, to be honest. I’ve lived here for 15 years, and during that time I’ve had a student visa, a work visa and a green card. … Finally becoming a U.S. citizen, I can’t describe the feeling.”

Thayse Porto Mota Conte poses with Judge Joshua D. Wolson
Thayse Porto Mota Conte posed with Judge Joshua D. Wolson after becoming a United States citizen at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Conte said having full citizenship status made her life more comfortable.

“I had a son, so I just wanted to feel safe. Even with a green card … you could get kicked out of the country, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. The U.S. citizenship was more certainty that I could be here equal to everyone else. And now I can vote, which is something I could not do for 15 years.”

Gonzalo Ramirez participates in a Let Freedom Ring ceremony
Gonzalo Ramirez participated in the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony after becoming a United States citizen at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney and others urged the new citizens to avail themselves of all the advantages, including the right to vote. Many of the newest citizens said they can’t wait to vote in their first election.

People hold American flags and papers during a naturalization ceremony
Thirteen new citizens of the United States participated in a special naturalization ceremony at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia on July 15, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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