PORTLAND, Ore. — Five hundred people were recognized as new U.S. citizens Thursday at a ceremony at the Oregon Convention Center. Event organizers said it’s the largest naturalization event ever to be held in Portland.
As part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony, citizenship candidates stood up when speakers named the countries they were from, showing the diversity of the class.
There was no louder or longer cheer than the one for Ukraine, as Evghenia Sincariuc stood proudly.
Sincariuc, who waved her American flag while wearing a shirt with the Ukrainian national colors of blue and gold, moved to America in 2016. She said she’s dreamed and worked to become a U.S. citizen since then.
Her daughter, who was born in Kyiv, brought her flowers after the ceremony.
"It's amazing, it feels awesome, one of the best days of my life," Sincariuc said. "So many emotions and so much joy and I'm so proud."
She said that while America has become her happy place, she’s heartbroken for everyone in Ukraine who is paying a "high price for their freedom."
The event’s keynote speaker was Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Chanpone Sinlapasai, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Laos in 2001.
Sinlapasai said the celebrations were nothing short of beautiful, describing the strengths of diversity and the “magic in the room.”
In 2020, the U.S. granted citizenship to 625,400 people. To become naturalized, immigrants must spend at least five years as a "lawful permanent resident" (LPR). The median amount of time it took for someone of LPR status to achieve citizenship was just over seven years — but that can vary greatly by country of origin. The median for immigrants from Mexico was 12.5 years as of 2020's figures.