The immigration office for Iowa and Nebraska has several public ceremonies coming up to swear in new Americans. The oath of citizenship will be administered to hundreds of people this year who’ve met the residence and study requirements, and Jerry Heinauer in the Omaha office is district director for Citizenship and Immigration Services, one section of the federal agency formerly known as the I-N-S. The two services most people are familiar with are becoming a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., or going even farther to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He says in the last year, this 2-state office naturalized about 43-hundred people, and granted permanent residence to 35-hundred in Iowa and Nebraska. Heinauer says people are surprised to hear how busy his office is, “here in the heartland of America, as far from a border as you can possibly be.” Heinauer says most people come, honestly, because of the unlimited opportunities here, from the employment openings to the chance to exercise religious freedom. He points out the U.S. is unique in all the opportunities and freedoms we enjoy. This weekend will see two public events where new citizens take the oath of citizenship. The first, on Friday, actually takes place at a suburban Omaha middle school. As about 100 people become naturalized, it’ll “take the idea of citizenship from the courtroom to the classroom,” he says, illustrating what the 8th-grade kids have been studying in their unit on citizenship. The next event, Saturday at an Omaha community College, will feature all Vietnamese citizens taking the oath, and it’s scheduled to coincide with Vietnamese New Year.
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