Every year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) celebrates Presidents Day, the holiday honoring the birth of the nation’s first president, George Washington, and all other presidents who have led the country, with naturalization ceremonies across the country. Last year, more than 25,000 new citizens were welcomed in 162 naturalization ceremonies from February 14-22, 2017.

Photos by Thomas E. Rogers

This year, Console Mattiacci Law partner Rahul Munshi was the distinguished speaker at the naturalization ceremony held at the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia on February 15. According to the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, 68 people from 28 countries became United States citizens at the ceremony.

Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors assistant treasurer Matthew S. Olesh and United States District Judge Joel H. Slomsky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit also appeared at the ceremony. Munshi actually completed his federal judicial clerkship with Slomsky in 2009 and 2010, a fact Slomsky himself noted in introducing Munshi before he spoke.

“What an extraordinary journey you all have been on,” Munshi said. “To uproot your lives, move to another country, make it your home, and to make a new life takes courage, faith, and a resounding amount of determination. I honestly do not believe that I could do what each and everyone of you has done. I’m in awe of your strength.”

Munshi spoke about being born in New York City and the United States being the country he has ever lived in, but being the son immigrants who moved to the United States and then met in New York City in the early 1970s. Munshi thanked his parents for their bravery and then thanked the audience “for taking a leap of faith that your life in this country would result in better lives for your children.”

“I’m in awe of your tenacity,” Munshi told the audience. “And I welcome you with open arms to this great nation of ours.”

Munshi recalled how his father trained as a social worker before deciding to go to law school and take the Bar Exam in his second language. He said he took the journeys his parents and family members took to come to the United States for granted as a child, but told the audience that their children “are going to realize how unbelievably lucky they are to have you as their parents.”

“Being an American comes with responsibilities and obligations, of course,” Munshi said. “And I urge all of you, with your newly minted status as a United States citizen, to wear your badge with honor and engage in civic life. Register to vote, even run for office yourself, serve on a jury if given the opportunity in this courthouse, and take pride in your City and country. Your country. My fellow Americans, it is with great pride that I congratulate each and every one of you for today becoming citizens of this most exceptional country.”

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