Fifty-seven folks were able to be safely sworn in as new US Citizens thanks to the creative thinking and planning of the Idaho District Court. Citizens from more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, China, Mexico and Peru, who otherwise would have had to wait months to become citizens because of the coronavirus pandemic, were sworn in at two outdoor ceremonies in July, with all participants wearing masks.
On July 23, 2020 U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale administered the oath of citizenship to 37 people on a patio outside the James D. McClure U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Boise. Twenty more new citizens had taken the oath outdoors the prior week.
Steven Kenyon, the clerk of Idaho’s U.S. District and Bankruptcy courts, got the idea for the outdoor citizenship ceremony after he saw a photo of an outside municipal court proceeding in San Francisco during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. As it turns out, Idaho had held an outdoor citizenship ceremony once before at Boise State University’s football stadium in 1990 for more than 100 people, during the Idaho state centennial.
Judge Dale, who presided over the outdoor ceremonies called them “a beautiful alternative,” and said of Naturalization ceremonies generally, “It’s right up there at the top of the list of the things you can do as a federal judge.”
Among the new citizens was 29-year-old Marta Rupp of the Dominican Republic, who led her fellow newly-minted citizens in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Said Rupp, “I’m grateful for this country and for all the things it has given me, so I think it was pretty cool to volunteer — an honor.”
Rupp’s whole family gathered on the courthouse patio Thursday to celebrate, with her young daughters taking turns holding a small American flag. Other new citizens also came to celebrate with a few of their friends or family members. Kudos to all at the Idaho District Court who made these new citizen’s dream a reality and congratulations to all of the new citizens!