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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bellevue welcomes new U.S. citizens

Forty-five local immigrants became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony on Monday at City Hall. It's the second time Bellevue has hosted the citizenship ceremony, a follow-up to the success of last year's inaugural event.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) Seattle field office presented the ceremony at City Hall in partnership with the City of Bellevue and the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA).

Attendance was limited to participants and invited guests, but the ceremony can be viewed on the city's cable access channel -- Bellevue Television, Channel 21 -- or streamed from Bellevue TV.

Approximately 30 percent of Bellevue's 130,000 residents were born outside of the United States. Mayor Conrad Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China, will offer welcome remarks on behalf of the city. BDA boardmember and naturalized citizen Shiv Batra will welcome participants on behalf of the downtown community.

"Bellevue is a city rich in multicultural diversity," Mayor Lee said. "One of three residents is foreign born. It is a place where everyone is welcome and valued." 

Following the Oath of Allegiance, Bellevue resident José García-Pabón delivered the ceremony's keynote address. "I came to the U.S. because this is the land of opportunity, but beyond the opportunities, I wanted to fully participate in the democratic process," said Dr. García-Pabón, an assistant professor who leads Latino community studies and outreach for Washington State University Extension.

The naturalization ceremony coincides with Constitution and Citizenship Day, which commemorates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution on Sept.17, 1787, and celebrates the contributions of naturalized citizens.

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