Much of what happens in the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Courthouse in Casper is outwardly mundane such as civil lawsuits, or horrible and revolting such as child pornography crimes where there are no winners and only pain.

But Monday, the walls reverberated with joy and patriotism as 22 people from 16 countries pledged their allegiance to the United States of America in a naturalization ceremony.

The ceremony started on a somber note when Chief Wyoming U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl asked for a moment of silence to honor the thousands of dead and wounded U.S. service personnel who have died in conflicts in the Middle East.

President Joe Biden spoke in a video recording, telling thee new citizens, "You all have one thing in common - courage."

They have come to a nation that is more than a place, but an idea, in that he as President shares the same title as those in the courtroom: citizen, Biden said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kubicheck addressed Skavdahl, saying those petitioning for citizenship have complete all requirements and passed background checks.

Skavdahl then administered the oath of citizenship, which was followed by a round of applause.

Organizations including the Daughters of the American Revolution, military fraternities, the Wyoming office of the U.S. Small Business Administration passed out swag and information.

Then the new citizens introduced themselves.

Stine Turgeon from Denmark said she has lived in Wyoming for 22 years, adding, "It's a special moment."

Others like Turgeon said they've been here with their families for years.

Pragyan Mishra from India said, "The ceremony was so touching and personal."

Kubichek then took the floor, saying citizenship gives much and expects much.

Citing the theory of entropy, in which disorder slows and eventually stops systems, he said that trend can be resisted in a society where all do their part.

"Do one thing -- help us to be better," Kubichek said. "Help keep the United States of America a going concern.

Skavdahl again congratulated the new citizens, saying people like himself got it easy because they were born here.

No government is perfect, and he echoed Kubichek saying all need to participate.

"Our Constitution is simply a piece of paper unless people support it," Skavdahl said.

The 22 new citizens came from 16 countries

  • Denmark: 1.
  • Mexico: 2.
  • Philippines: 4.
  • Australia: 1.
  • Canada: 2.
  • Chile: 1.
  • Venezuela: 1.
  • Latvia: 1.
  • Germany: 1.
  • Ecuador: 1.
  • Cameroon: 1.
  • India: 1.
  • Costa Rica: 1.
  • Vietnam: 1.
  • China: 2.
  • Trinidad & Tobago: 1.

After the ceremony, new citizen and former Venezuela resident Maria Nunez said she has lived in the United States for five years. Her father said he became a citizen last year.

Venezuela has been in the grip of left-wing dictator Nicolas Maduro since 2013 and the country has suffered high inflation, food and other shortages, silenced political opposition, disappeared dissidents, and restrictions and assaults against journalists.

Nunez still has friends and family in Venezuela, she said.

Reflecting on the citizens' rights, particularly voting, outlined by Skavdahl, she said she fully intended to exercise her right to vote.

"In Venezuela you can vote, but it does not count," Nunez said.

Wyoming Welcomes 22 New Citizens at Naturalization Ceremony

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