Wayne County hosts swearing in of 22 new American citizens
On Thursday, coordinator Wayne County Clerk, Mike Jankowski, oversaw the naturalization ceremony that made 22 people from 13 countries U. S. citizens. It was the first such ceremony held in Wayne County in over 50 years.
The ceremony was the culmination of a proccess of over at least five years of permanent residency, finger printing and photographing, much paperwork, interviews, English study mixed with history and civics lessons that would challenge most natural born Americans.
The new citizens were often accompanied by friends and relatives only too anxious to take pictures and videos. Jeffery Belling, Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security out of Buffalo, served as the master of ceremonies for the two hour induction. The Marion Minute Men, posted the colors with Eagle Scout Ricky Yackel leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Williamson WWII, Korea and Vietnam Veteran Retired Colonel Tom Dawes singing the National Anthem. Following politicians and government officials’ speeches, the new citizens were given packets with information and each was allowed to register to vote. Wayne County Judge Dennis Kehoe welcomed the new citizens and went the extra mile to sign a court order allowing them to vote in next week’s elections. He also spoke of his grandfather, William James Kehoe, becoming a citizen 90 years ago.
Each new citizen was also given a small American flag. One elderly man from India beamed throughout the ceremony, clapping wildly after each speech. He also clutched the flag to his chest when called up for the final phase of the proceedings.
New York Assemblyman Robert Oaks thanked the new citizens for taking the steps to become an American. “You are making us a richer country by your choice.”
Following the official ceremony, the County supplied refreshments for the guests and each had their picture taken, including a group photo on the steps of the County Court House.
Of the 22 new citizens, one couple, currently residing in the Village of Palmyra, were the only representatives from Wayne County. Rajib Sengupta, his wife, Rita Bhattachayee and their six year-old son, Rudra have been living in Palmyra for the past year and a half. Rajib currently works for Baldwin Richardson Foods in Macedon as Director of Information Technology. He first migrated to the U.S. working on the West Coast during the dot.com boom in the late 1990s. Another job in software in Omaha, Nebraska, kept him active for another 8 years, before migrating to the Palmyra area.
Rita, who met Rajib while the two were attending university in India, came to the U.S. in 2001. She created a non-profit company that is volunteer driven. It serves in defining and coordinating medical services in third world countries. With research and grant developments, her hours are filled. Her main office remains in Florida, but she spends several months in Palmyra and travels extensively to India and other places in the world.
Runda is an active kindergartner at Pal-Mac and has taken a liking to pasta and meatballs. He loves math and reading and his father said he could not ask for a better son.