On World Refugee Day, 19 individuals were granted United States citizenship at a special naturalization ceremony in New York City’s Central Park Delacorte Theater. The ceremony was held Monday evening, June 20, 2016.

According to AP, these new citizens represent 12 different countries. And in keeping with the spirit of the day, they are largely refugees and asylum seekers. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson conducted the ceremony, leading the group in the Oath of Allegiance.

‚ÄúYou remind us of how special it is to be an American citizen because you work so hard to join our ranks,‚ÄĚ he said in his address.

David Miliband, the CEO of the International Rescue Committee, also spoke during the ceremony, referring to New York as ‚Äúthe ultimate refugee and immigrant city.‚ÄĚ

The families and loved ones of the 19 new citizens were in attendance, and those sworn in relished the occasion.


‚ÄúToday is the happiest day of my life,‚ÄĚ Hatoumata Tounkara, a refugee from Mali, told AP. ‚ÄúThis country has given me everything.‚ÄĚ

Image via AP.