For attorneys, the courtroom is often rife with conflict and anxiety. But for some hopeful individuals, the courtroom is where their dreams of becoming United States citizens officially become reality.
IndyBar attorneys have a unique opportunity to take part in these momentous occasions in the lives of our newest compatriots. Twice a month, the IndyBar sends representatives to the Naturalization Ceremonies to give welcoming words to the new citizens. Ceremonies are held in the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse, last about an hour and are held on Thursday mornings.
IndyBar volunteers have two responsibilities: to welcome the new citizens with a short speech (a sample of one is provided) and to distribute a welcome gift following the ceremony. The IndyBar gives each new citizen a copy of the United States and Indiana Constitutions Book.
Many agencies participate in the ceremonies. As an IndyBar volunteer, you will arrive at the court and be seated with the others in the jury box. An agenda will be provided and you will be called upon by name at the appropriate time by the judge.
Naturalization Ceremonies feature the recitation of the United States Oath of Citizenship and provide newly naturalized citizens with a welcome to the United States, a brief overview of the justice system and the importance of citizenship, and greetings and congratulations from city and state officials and local organizations.
Volunteers are often struck with how emotionally moving the experience can be.
“There’s a lot I enjoy about being involved in the IndyBar. I must confess, though, that about the best thing I have been able to do a several times over the past few years is represent the IndyBar at naturalization ceremonies conducted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana,” Past IndyBar President Scott Chinn noted in his July 2012 Indiana Lawyer President’s Column.
“There are a lot of moments during these events that tug at your heart and induce mist in your eyes, like when the eldest new citizen is provided a flag that’s flown over the U.S. Capitol and when the youngest new citizen leads all those assembled in the pledge of allegiance.”
If you would like to find out more or volunteer, please contact Caren Chopp at firstname.lastname@example.org.•