13 children sworn in as U.S. citizens during special Independence Day ceremony

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has planned 175 ceremonies, swearing-in some 14,000 new citizens, by July 10, to celebrate independence. 

One of them, Wednesday, at the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia, was devoted to children.

Thirteen children from seven countries were sworn in, most of them the children of immigrants who've become U.S. citizens, themselves, and thus can sponsor their children. 

Adlanom Kaysu arrived in the U.S. eight years ago as a refugee from Eritrea, one of the countries on the Trump administration's travel ban list. 

His journey, today, would have been impossible and, if he'd tried to bring his daughter, Abigail, who became a citizen, Wednesday, they might have been separated and put in detention. 

Kaysu had no comment on that. He just said he was happy Abigail was being sworn in.

"If you know, citizens, they have a lot of things, like, you can bring your mom, dad and you have a lot of benefits," Kaysu said.

The children took the oath together, after which proud parents erupted in sustained applause.

The ceremony also included a special bell-ringing, with each child representing one of the original 13 colonies, and speeches by civic leaders and elected officials.

"In addition to all the rights you have as citizens, you now have the right to complain about your elected officials," Mayor Kenney joked.

Kenney restrained his usual criticism of current federal immigration policy but could not leave it out altogether.

"As you see, today, the poor people that are trying to get in here are being locked up and held against their will," he said. "But you have had the opportunity to work hard, to study hard, to do the right thing and to be good American citizens.

"As the mayor of a city that is proud to welcome immigrants, I'm going to do my part to make sure you have everything you need to reach your true potential in this country," the mayor said.

Some of the children were so young, they seemed unaware of the significance of the occasion. But 14-year-old Asad Ali said he understood.

"It's a great achievement and a lifelong opportunity for us," Ali said. "I would say, 'Thank you America for this great achievement. Thank you.'"


Photo credit: Patricia Coyne, Flag House Chapter DAR

Click here to view additional photos from the event.