New Americans clear citizenship hurdle in Denver

Nearly three dozen people from 21 countries take oath at ceremony


For Beate Wake, 52, becoming a U.S. citizen means having a stronger voice.

“I don’t feel left out anymore, I feel like part of the group now,” said Wake, who is from Germany and has lived in the United States for 23 years.

The thing she looks forward to the most is voting — which she registered to do immediately following her naturalization ceremony.

Wake was one of 35 individuals from 21 countries who took the oath of allegiance and become a U.S. citizen Sept. 6 at a ceremony held at Four Mile Historic Park Grant Family Education Center at 715 S. Forest St. in Denver.

Individuals earning citizenship at this ceremony were originally from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burma, Cameroon, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam.

“The sky is the limit here,” said Grace Setor, who originally moved to Denver from Ghana in the mid-’90s to attend Denver Seminary. Setor went back to Africa in 2000, but has called Colorado home again since 2008.

“It took several years, but by God’s grace I get my citizenship today,” she said. “I’m so happy and thankful to God for this opportunity to be American — education, freedom of worship… everything that comes with it.”

Michael Smith, of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said taking the oath of allegiance is an extraordinary thing.

“This is not a formality,” Smith said. “It’s not a check-the-box ceremonial thing. This is the most important part.”

Smith, who administered the oath, acknowledged the candidates’ love, emotional ties, cultures, customs, and family ties to their former countries and the tough decision it is to now give allegiance to the U.S.

He also reminded the new citizens that although they are pledging loyalty to the United States, they are not required to give up their love for their former country, culture or customs.

“We actually hope that you, as an American citizen, feel free to share everything about your background and everything that makes you the person that you are with other people,” he said. “It makes our country stronger when we have people willing to share their diversity.”


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