Archive for Friday, August 15, 2003

Immigrants to become citizens at Dole Institute

August 15, 2003


As many as 200 people will gather Sept. 11 in the red, white and blue glow of the large stained-glass flag at the Dole Institute of Politics and become U.S. citizens.

"We wanted to do something on that day, and what better way to show that people still want to come to this country and raise their kids here," said Erik Nelson, assistant director of the Dole Institute on Kansas University's west campus.

Sept. 11, of course, will mark the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Usually, U.S. citizenship ceremonies in this area are conducted at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.

But Dole Institute officials hope to stage the ceremonies here occasionally.

The citizenship ceremony is conducted by federal judges. For the Dole Institute ceremony, two federal judges who live in Lawrence will be involved.

Lawrence resident Deanell Tacha, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, will speak. And John W. Lungstrum, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the state of Kansas, will preside over the ceremony.

Tacha said it would be a privilege to take part in the ceremony -- which could be a first in Lawrence.

"A naturalization ceremony is in and of itself a reminder of the benefits and privileges of being a citizen of the United States," she said. "We think it is a very appropriate way of recognizing the tragedy of Sept. 11 by celebrating what it means to become a citizen."

The Dole Institute is a place that can add to the "memorable and meaningful" experience of the day for those becoming U.S. citizens, Nelson said. "This is something we like to do, and this is just the perfect place for it."

The event in the great hall of the institute will mark the end of a long journey and the completion of a lot of paperwork for those who have come to the United States to become citizens.

"These ceremonies are real tear-jerkers," Nelson said. "It is always very emotional."

The ceremonies generally will continue to be conducted in Kansas City, Kan., but could periodically be held at the Dole Institute, said Mike Mort, a court employee.

A specific time for the Sept. 11 ceremony still has to be determined.

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