The United States gained 655 new citizens Tuesday during a naturalization ceremony at Bradley University. Chief U.S. District Judge James Shadid and other dignitaries presided over the swearing-in for the immigrants from 77 countries.
The ceremony was one of the largest in Central Illinois history. Judge Shadid’s grandparents became American citizens 88 years ago. He says the ceremony is live civics lesson.
“It’s something you can’t learn in school room or in a book. That’s why we’ve included the 8th graders for civics lessons the last couple of years, ahead of the ceremony. I am just honored, honored to preside,” says Shadid.
Judges Shadid and Jo Billy McDade met with about 100-8th grade students before the naturalization ceremony.
Tuesday was also National Voter Registration Day. Many of the new citizens also registered to vote.