They came from countries like Haiti, Italy, Canada, Mexico, and Ghana. And on Thursday, inside the downtown Hartford Public Library, 50 immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance from U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant.
Izabela Kaliska was among the new U.S. citizens pledging to defend American laws and the Constitution.
“It’s very, very overwhelming for me because I’m so excited,” said Kaliska, 50, who arrived 17 years ago from Poland. Even now, she said, she wondered if it was too good to be true. “It’s beautiful. It was a very beautiful ceremony, too.”
Her son, Robert Kaliski, became a naturalized citizen alongside her. His bosses at BioSafe Systems, an East Hartford company where Kaliski is human resources manager, came to the ceremony in a show of support.
For Kaliski, who turns 31 this year, the next step is making sure he can cast a ballot in the next election. “I think this is a very valuable time to register to vote and make sure that my voice is also out there,” he said.
Hartford Public Library is one of six Connecticut libraries hosting the naturalization ceremonies during National Library Week. The events, including ones in New Britain, Stamford, and Danbury, were coordinated with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
In Connecticut, about 7 percent of residents are foreign-born naturalized citizens, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
This report is part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. The initiative is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and includes reporters in Hartford, Conn., Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., and Portland, Ore.