About a thousand people from distant and not-so-distant lands became newly minted Americans during a naturalization ceremony at Raley Field today.
I attended the last one at the sweet West Sacramento ballpark on May 15, when 888 people from 79 countries were sworn in and then had to sit and wait longer than expected. These were people who had been waiting in some cases several years for this day, so their patience reserves might have been running low by this point.
Folks commuted in from 23 counties starting at the Oregon border on the north and diving to the Fresno County border in the south, and stretching from Benicia to Nevada, many with their proud families and friends in tow.
Most naturalized citizens around these parts originally hail from Mexico, India and the Philippines, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Services spokeswoman Sharon Rummery.
The roughly three-hour event was a mix of pageantry and processing.
The citizenship branch of Homeland Security made the mistake of holding the swearing-in first—which is what the foreign-born were there for, especially the ones who navigated multi-year citizenship obstacle courses that dissuade many, many more from going the legal route—then making all those new Americans wait under a direct, unavoidable sun while cultural dance troupes boogied and local politicians blah-blahed for their viewing displeasure.
When a few folks stood to use the bathroom, starch-suited immigration officials blocked the exits.
“You can’t leave. Stay in your seats,” one ordered.
The message was clear: Congratulations, new citizens. Welcome to the United States of Sit the Hell Down.
“I’m confused. Is this baseball?”