CORONAVIRUS

Naturalization ceremonies in Iowa resume with a little less ceremony to follow coronavirus social distance guidelines

New citizens hold U.S. flags during a September 2017 naturalization ceremony at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
New citizens hold U.S. flags during a September 2017 naturalization ceremony at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. A naturalization ceremony scheduled this September at the Hoover museum has been canceled out of concerns about the coronavirus, but a scaled-down ceremony is scheduled for July 17 at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The first naturalization ceremony in Eastern Iowa since the outbreak of the coronavirus will take place this month at the U.S. Northern District Courthouse in Cedar Rapids.

About 30 people will take the Oath of Allegiance on July 17, beginning at 1 p.m., with social-distancing guidelines in place.

In March, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services canceled all naturalization ceremonies for several months to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s always moving to have folks become citizens, but the bad thing is with COVID-19, they don’t get the full ceremonial experience,” said Paul Coberly, deputy clerk for the Northern Districct.

After months of waiting, Coberly said, “they finally get to become citizens, so there’s that,” Coberly said.

Participants will be allowed in 10 at a time in a staggered ceremony that will forgo the traditional singing of the national anthem and remarks by state senators or a representative from state government.

Participants will take the oath, Coberly will announce their citizenship and they will leave.

Families and friends, who typically watch a loved one become a citizen, will not be invited to join the July 17 ceremonies.

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Naturalization ceremonies typically occur on the third Friday of each month, when an average of 30 residents become citizens.

The next naturalization ceremony is scheduled for August, but Coberly said officials are monitoring the coronavirus before deciding how to proceed.

A naturalization ceremony scheduled to be at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch in September was canceled.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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