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The Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA-Michigan) will host a US citizenship oath-taking ceremony on Feb. 18, 2014 at the Philippine Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield.

The ceremony will start at 10 a.m.

The key participants in the program will include Douglas Pierce of the Department of Homeland Security/US Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in Detroit.

NaFFAA-Michigan headed by this writer is expecting some 300 oath takers and their family members.

This will be the third time NaFFAA-Michigan is hosting an oath-taking ceremony for US citizens. It has been hosting this event as part of its civic and community services.

The new US citizens belonging to various ethnic groups will benefit from this historical ceremony as this will be a turning point in their life.

Immigrants take their oath as citizens only after they pass the citizenship interview, which is a requirement for the approval by USCIS of their applications for naturalization.

The new citizens are obliged to recite the oath of citizenship, which is the last requirement for naturalization. That’s why immigrants whose citizenship applications have just been approved are still called candidates and are called citizens only after they are sworn in.

During the ceremony, the candidates will swear allegiance to the United States. Immediately after the ceremony, they will receive their naturalization certificate.

With their naturalization certificates, they are qualified to apply for a US passport and can vote in national, state and local elections. They also have the option to change their names.

In taking their oath, they are pledging that they will renounce their allegiance to the foreign country where they had previously held citizenship. They also declare that that they will support and defend the US Constitution and agree to bear arms on behalf of the US. They likewise agree to perform non- combatant services in the armed forces or do work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.

The keynote speaker at the oath-taking ceremony will be Attorney Rona Lum, an immigration lawyer.

This writer, in his capacity as state chairperson of NaFFAA-Michigan, will welcome the oath takers. Imelda Martin Hum, president of the Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO), will deliver a congratulatory remark. Tina Campos will lead in the singing of the US Anthem.

As host of the event, NaFFAA-Michigan will provide food which will be served shortly after the ceremony.

Advance congratulations to the prospective oath takers for becoming full-fledged US citizens.