Naturalization Ceremony Part of Statue of Liberty Celebration

At a celebration to mark the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, 125 immigrants from more than 40 countries became U.S. citizens in a naturalization ceremony held in the shadow of the statue on October 28.

Speaking to Reuters, 66-year-old, Jamaica-born Averill Nelson said it was very meaningful to have the ceremony on Liberty Island. She added that she is excited to exercise her right to vote now that she is a citizen.

The event also included performances by Broadway stars, a reading of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” by actress Sigourney Weaver and a speech by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

Salazar stated that while the Statue has served as a beacon of hope for generations of immigrants, the government recognizes there is still much work to be done regarding U.S. immigration policies.

The Statue of Liberty celebration took place near the site where the World Trade Center once stood, and where the 9/11 Memorial recently opened on the 10th anniversary of that event.

The events of September 11 did not only impact regulations governing immigration to this country, but affected the way U.S. citizens travel abroad. Barry Richcreek, owner of Richcreek Vacation Center in Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania, recently told that many of his clients have been confused about the use of passport cards, which were introduced after 9/11.

In response to complaints about tightened travel regulations in the wake of the terrorist attacks, the U.S. State Department created passport cards to ease travel between the United States and nearby countries such as Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. However, Richcreek said it’s important for travelers to realize the cards are only valid for entering those countries via land or sea. Travelers who are flying internationally still need a traditional U.S. passport.