Schenectady hosts first drive-in naturalization ceremony in New York


Schenectady County Clerk Cara M. Ackerley delivers the Oath of Allegiance during New York’s first drive-in Naturalization Ceremony on September 25, 2020 at Schenectady County Community College. (Erin Roberts, Schenectady County)

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Schenectady County held New York’s first-ever drive-thru naturalization ceremony on Friday, as 43 applicants became American citizens. The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. at SUNY Schenectady County Community College’s rear parking lot.

“They come from all over, to the country in their heart,” said New York State Supreme Court Justice Mark Powers. “Now they are home.”

The last naturalization ceremony in the 4th Judicial District was held on February 28. Pre-pandemic, the District—which includes Schenectady County—usually held a monthly ceremony for 35 to 60 applicants.

“Finding a way to make this ceremony happen during the pandemic is so important because it allows applicants to fulfill their dream of becoming a citizen,” said Schenectady County Clerk Cara M. Ackerley. “These ceremonies are incredibly close to my heart as my grandfather became a citizen of our great nation in this way. I am honored to administer the Oath of Allegiance and welcome these applicants into citizenship.”

The Schenectady County Clerk partnered with the state’s Office of Court Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the ceremony. Judge Powers presided over the ceremony—which represented an official session of the New York State Supreme Court—and Ackerley administered the Oath of Allegiance to the applicants.

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