The Elgin City Council recognized 27 new citizens Wednesday, marking the 16th annual such ceremony that typically takes place around the Fourth of July.
All of the new citizens either live, work or have taken citizenship classes in Elgin.
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Centro de Informacion Executive Director Jaime Garcia, a naturalized citizen himself, introduced the new citizens to the city council.
Those honored Wednesday are only a portion of the Elgin-area residents naturalized in the last year, he said.
Quoting the words of a judge who performed a 1994 naturalization ceremony in Chicago, Garcia said:
"The immigrants and their immediate descendants have proved themselves both loyal and great citizens of this country," he said, later adding, "America has believed that in differentiation -- not in uniformity -- lies the faith of progress."
New citizen Obedina Acosta of Carpentersville agreed.
"In this country, things like religion don't make a difference," said Acosta, who attended the ceremony with her 8-year-old daughter. "There are opportunities to grow, both morally and financially."
Becoming citizens together in January was a special event for four members of the Panchal family of Bolingbrook, originally from India.
Madhuriben Panchal said she, her brother and parents immigrated to the United States from India about five years ago.
"We wanted to come here to find good work," she said.
Other countries of origin of the new citizens include Peru, Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala, Macedonia, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand.
Elgin Community College and the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce also helped organized the ceremony, which included personalized certificates for the new citizens.
The Elgin Choral Union performed at the ceremony, which was followed by a reception with cake and a violin player.
Among the dignitaries present were state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, state Rep. Anna Moeller, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and state Sen. Michael Noland.