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Tulsa ceremony sees 90 children become U.S. citizens

a large group of people outdoors during a ceremony
Ben Abrams

The city of Tulsa welcomed the latest group of U.S. citizens Thursday morning, the majority of whom were children. The office of Mayor G.T. Bynum held the city’s third annual child citizenship ceremony at the Gathering Place along the Arkansas River, where 90 children from 25 different countries took an oath of allegiance.

“At city hall, we call this right here the happiest day of the year in Tulsa,” Bynum told the crowd of families gathered for the ceremony. “There is nowhere where you have greater opportunity to lead the life that you dream of than right here in the United States of America right now."

 a large group of people gather for a selfie
Ben Abrams
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum takes a selfie with children sworn in as U.S. citizens.

Batel Hagos was one of the children who took the oath. She was born in Israel and her family is of African descent.

“I feel very happy that I have bigger opportunities since [I’ve now become] an American citizen,” Hagos said. “I want to thank everybody who came to watch– and I want to thank my mom and especially my dad, who filled out forms and stuff for me."

Brothers Ryan and Leeroy Lalong’s family are from Cameroon and said becoming citizens means a lot primarily because they are “limited” without citizenship.

Krystal Reyes, Tulsa’s chief resilience officer, says this ceremony was the largest so far and represented a diversifying city. “It just is Tulsa. It represents the diversity that we have in our city,” she said.

Each recipient was given a certificate by the mayor and his staff commemorating their achievement. This year’s child ceremony is the third of its kind in Tulsa.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.