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Students witness citizenship ceremony in their school

BRANFORD --  A Branford middle school multipurpose room was transformed into a courtroom Tuesday, giving the entire student body an opportunity to witness a legal proceeding that dates back hundreds of years.

Every year, almost 800,000 immigrants become naturalized U.S. citizens. Part of that list includes 30 individuals, from 20 countries, reciting the Oath of Allegiance, which dates back to the late 1700s.

“I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America,” they said in unison.

The student body was riveted.

“Throughout the year, they were getting ready for the event, learning the background,” said Raeanne Reynolds, the Principal at Walsh Intermediate. “It’s part of their history classes. So, that when they actually became part of the court today, they knew what to expect.”

Each of these new citizens is incredibly thankful.

Alejandro Martinez, who is a native of Colombia, has lived in Vernon for 12 years.

“I waited for many years for this moment,” he said. “I work really hard everyday.”

A woman from Morocco, who now lives in Stratford, said “You gain some liberties and freedom and you can travel anywhere,” said Hanane Elouali, with her two children in town. “I think it’s amazing!”

In recent months, deportation orders have been in three spotlight, but some naturalized citizens said it’s not difficult to follow the proper steps to citizenship.

“You don’t have to hire a lawyer,” said Said Essabbani of Stratford, who is also a native of Morocco. “You don’t have to hire anybody. If you do your paperwork by yourself, it doesn’t take much time.”

Among the list of requirements to become a United States citizen: you must have resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years and be able to speak, read, write and understand English.