by Karen Hendershot
On September 18, 2018 the League of Women Voters of Burlington County (LWVBurlCo) supported a special naturalization ceremony held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Rowan College Burlington County (RCBC). As part of USCIS' annual celebration of Constitution Week and Citizenship Day, marked on September 17, 100 people from 45 countries were sworn in as United States citizens.
The new citizens were welcomed and congratulated by a number of speakers, including Dr. Michael A. Cioce, President, RCBC; Kate Gibbs, Director, Burlington County Freeholder; and Ya-Mei Chen, Director, Mount Laurel USCIS Field Office. Dr. Karen Hendershot, President of LWVBurlCo, made congratulatory remarks to the audience. She urged the new citizens to "...consider taking a big and important step towards empowering your voice in our democratic process. Register to vote today!"
Immediately after the ceremony a team of 30 LWVBurlCo volunteers, led by Voter Service Chairperson Susan Illion, registered new citizens to vote. This initiative is part of a collaboration, which began in January 2017, between USCIS and the LWVBurlCo (and supported in part by the League of Women Voters Education Fund) to register new US citizens to vote at weekday ceremonies in the Mt. Laurel USCIS Field Office and at special ceremonies throughout the year. Through its New Citizens Voter Registration Initiative, the LWVBurlCo has registered more than 4000 new citizens to vote since April 2017, and currently has a corps of nearly 60 volunteers.