May 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - The St. Cloud area can count nearly six dozen elated new American citizens among its population as of today.
A collective Naturalization ceremony, held on Wednesday at the St. Cloud Public Library, officially swore in and congratulated 71 new Americans from 24 nations from every habitable continent.
The ceremony takes place once a year, says Laura Tripiciano. She's a St. Cloud attorney who has been practicing immigration law for 10 years.
Tripiciano says the range of countries these new citizens hail from is as diverse as can be imagined.
"Iceland, Libera, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, the United Kingdom, St. Lucia, Russia, the Phillipines, and a number of other countries," Tripiciano says. "The range is wide."
In addition to working with clients on the naturalization process, Tripiciano has helped organize St. Cloud's annual naturalization celebration since the inception.
She says it's great to have a yearly ceremony for new residents of the St. Cloud area, instead of the Twin Cities, so local family members and friends can easily take part.
"We make a request with the federal court, who schedules the ceremonies," Tripiciano says. "They do a few every month in the Twin Cities, and they also schedule them in outstate Minnesota. So we try to line one up once a year."
Tripiciano isn't just an immigration lawyer; she's also the mother of Habtamu, her four year old adopted Ethiopian son. She says, for those taking part in in the ceremony, it's the experience of a lifetime.
"It's a very big deal. I got here about half an hour early and found about 30-40 people lined up already," she says. "Many people are dressed up in their finest. Every emotion - happiness, tears of joy. You'll see it all."
St. Paul-based Federal judge Gregory Kishel presided over the ceremony, which also included the National Anthem, congratulatory remarks from St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis and a reading of nations in which each new American was born.
This is the 4th annual St. Cloud area Naturalization Ceremony.
Temp: 7°F (-14°C)
Wind: 17mph W