Courts find new ways to swear in citizens despite coronavirus

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 02: People are sworn in as new American citizens during a ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services New York Field Office on July 2, 2020 in New York City. The ceremonies were brief and observed precautions, like wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing, to limit exposure to the coronavirus for those in attendance.(Photo by Byron Smith/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The coronavirus crisis has made naturalization ceremonies look a little different, but they are no less meaningful for new US citizens.

At the beginning of the pandemic, soon-to-be-Americans lamented the loss due to safety concerns of in-person-citizenship ceremonies.

In recent weeks, however, a growing number of courts have begun to swear in citizens again, but with a list of changes aimed at protecting participants from the virus.

While judges still offer their traditional warm words of welcome, each participant is required to wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart.

And although family members are not allowed to attend these events in person, relatives have found creative ways to cheer on their loved ones.

In Kansas and Missouri, family members peeked through courthouse windows. In Wyoming, courts livestreamed audio and video of the naturalizations on YouTube.

More than 2,000 new citizens each day

“We know that people who apply for citizenship demonstrate great commitment and patiently endure a long process to attain their dream of American citizenship,” said Chief Judge Julie A. Robinson, of the District of Kansas, in a statement.

“We are pleased we were able to swear in these new citizens in a safe environment so that they would suffer no further delay, despite the pandemic.”

The naturalization of new US citizens is an especially joyous rite of passage, culminating the sometimes yearslong process of becoming an American.

About 765,000 people become US citizens every year — averaging out to around 2,100 new citizens a day, according to analysis of government data by Seattle-based Boundless.

In a conversation with a judge, one Ukrainian woman spoke emotionally of her lengthy path to citizenship. “It is a huge privilege to be a citizen of the United States,” she said.

“I fought a long journey for it. It took me 12 years, but I am very honored and happy. I won’t let you down.”