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Reception for New Americans

The Inaugural Reception for New Americans was held on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 in Bowling Green City Hall with 64 new US Citizens being recognized by Mayor Bruce Wilkerson and the Bowling Green Board of Commissioners to a standing room only commission chamber.  The event was the vision of the City’s International Communities Liaison, Leyda Becker, who wanted to have a local recognition for newly naturalized Citizens in Bowling Green.  Becker, who became a US Citizen in 2011, remembers having to take the oath ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky, over a hundred miles away and in an unfamiliar location surrounded by people she didn’t know.  “It was such an incredible accomplishment that I wanted to share it with everyone around me,” said Becker.

After the success of the first reception, it was evident that this event could be replicated every year.  Today more than ever, the City of Bowling Green recognizes that our citizen base is becoming more diversified and many foreign-born immigrants and refugees are eligible to pursue naturalization and become active members of our community who want to exercise their rights.

In order to identify new Citizens, the City of Bowling Green works with the various community partners who are actively involved with immigrants and refugees through Citizenship classes and helping to process applications for naturalization.  “The process of naturalization is not simple, the eligible applicant has to submit an application to United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) that has a costly fee, pass a citizenship exam, complete an interview process and pass a thorough background check,” explains Becker.

Every year the number of newly naturalized US Citizens being recognized in Bowling Green has grown. The reception, which was originally held in City Hall, has now been moved to a ballroom at the Sloan Convention Center.  Last year there were 170 newly naturalized citizens that were recognized and this year we are gearing up for another record number!  Over 124 invitations have already been mailed for this year’s recognition which will be held on Tuesday, September 10 at 6 pm at the Sloan Convention Center.

In addition to local officials personally recognizing each new US Citizen, a new voter registration booth is set-up to assist those who are interested in registering.  Entire family units, including Mom, Dad, and children, are recognized together by City officials in the presence of other family members and friends.   Our hope is that through this recognition, our newest constituents feel connected to our local government and find access to the many services the City of Bowling Green can provide its residents.

Nearly 400 newly naturalized US Citizens have been recognized through this local reception to date.  If you know someone who has become a US citizen between September 26, 2018 to present date, please contact Leyda Becker at Leyda.becker@bgky.org or at 270-393-3766 to be added to this year’s recognition.

Photo Credit: BG Daily News