Hagan welcomes new citizens at Old Salem

Former Sen. Kay Hagan talks about immigration at Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

Hagan welcomes new citizens at Old Salem
July 07
19:38 2016

Photo by Todd Luck



Former Sen. Kay Hagan welcomed 49 new citizens from 26 countries into the United State’s melting pot as Old Salem Museum and Gardens hosted an Independence Day Naturalization Ceremony in the area where the first official July Fourth celebration in the country was held. It was held in Salem, N.C. in 1783.

This is the sixth year the naturalization ceremony has been held on July 4 at Old Salem. This year was the first time it rained, so the ceremony was moved indoors, making it a standing room only event. Many attendees who couldn’t get in stood by the door listening to the ceremony.

The 49 new citizens who took the Oath of Allegiance, have been tested on their ability to speak, read and write English; their knowledge of government and to make sure they have good moral character. Naturalization ceremonies are regularly held year-round by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for those who meet the criteria for citizenship.  On July 4 alone, there were 100 naturalization ceremonies with 7,000 new citizens.

Hagan, a former state and U.S. senator, said freedom and opportunity are the top draws for those immigrating to the United States. Yet, from the founding of the country, those things have been limited by race, religion, wealth and gender, she said.

“It’s equally true that there’s been an unstoppable trend toward inclusiveness in America,” she said. “A trend that, with the passage of time, has broken down walls and doors to allow more and more people the opportunity to excel and the freedom to follow their dreams no matter how big they are.”

Hagan said choosing to become a U.S. citizen is “one of the most patriotic acts that anyone can perform.” But she also said immigration has become a hot button issue in this year’s elections.

“We are in the midst of an electoral season in which essential issues, especially regarding immigration, are being debated,” she said.  “Who should be allowed to come into the United States? Who should be allowed to stay? Should families of immigrants be broken up?”

Amra Beslagic, a supervisory Immigrant Services officer, told the new citizens to enjoy their special day. Beslagic told them, as a Bosnian refugee who became a citizen herself, she knew all the steps it took to get there.

“I welcome you, finally, to your naturalization ceremony,” said Beslagic. “You can sit back and relax. There are no more tests. There are no more interviews.”

The new citizens came from countries all over the world, including Croatia, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. The new citizens can now do things only U.S. citizens can do, like registering to vote or traveling with a U.S. passport.

Hasnaa Stinou and her husband, Abderrazak Mouslim, both became citizens together on Monday. “Wow, I’m very happy!” said Stinou about becoming a citizen.

The couple came from Morocco five years ago in search of a better life and said the immigration  process has been a smooth one. They now reside in Greensboro and work in packing. Mouslim said they’re hoping to find better employment. He said he is planning to take more classes at Guilford Technical Community College.

Raluca Mironescu, who is from Romania, came to the United States to be with her husband after he immigrated. She resides in Winston-Salem and says she’d found the states to be “very welcoming.” She works in accounting while her husband is in information technology. Both are recent Forsyth Technical Community College graduates.

“It’s an opportunity for anyone to start over,” she said about coming to the United States.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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