For Immediate Release - September 08, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK CONGRATULATES NEW UNITED STATES CITIZENS AT CEREMONY IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY

STOCKBRIDGE – Saturday, September 8, 2012  – Governor Deval Patrick today welcomed new American citizens at a naturalization ceremony. Twenty-five Berkshire County residents from 16 different countries were sworn in at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

"Becoming a citizen is a major step for immigrants and refugees towards full integration into American life and living the American Dream, central to what our country stands for," said Governor Patrick. “The diverse backgrounds, shared experiences, enthusiasm and ambition among these new citizens will make the Commonwealth and country stronger for generations to come."

The ceremony, the first to be held in Berkshire County since 2002, took place in the museum’s main gallery against the backdrop of Norman Rockwell’s iconic Four Freedoms paintings. Southern Berkshire District Court Judge Frederic Rutberg led the oath of allegiance.

“I am extremely honored that the Norman Rockwell Museum asked me to officiate at the citizenship swearing-in ceremony,” said Judge Rutberg. “I was fortunate to preside over a similar ceremony many years ago and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. The stories and accomplishments of our newest citizens were truly inspiring then, and I am sure that this was a memorable day not only for those who took the oath of citizenship, but also for all those lucky enough to witness the event.”

The Berkshire Immigration Center (BIC), which offers assistance with the naturalization process, helped support the residents through the process. To obtain U.S. citizenship, one must hold legal permanent resident (green card) status for a minimum of five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen for the duration), take an exam on U.S. history and civics, demonstrate proficiency in the English language, and be of “good moral character” among other requirements.

On July 9, 2008, Governor Patrick signed Executive Order 503, "Integrating Immigrants and Refugees into the Commonwealth," launching the New Americans Agenda for Massachusetts. The Patrick-Murray Administration’s Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) promotes the full participation of refugees and immigrants as self-sufficient individuals and families in the economic, social and civic life of Massachusetts. ORI works with community-based organizations and other state agencies to provide a range of services to refugees, asylees, immigrants and other non-citizen residents. More information about ORI is available at: www.mass.gov/ori.

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