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First naturalization ceremony in Durango welcomes 13 new U.S. citizens

Magistrate James Candelaria stands with thirteen new citizens in front of the La Plata County Courthouse.
Clark Adomaitis
/
KSUT/KSJD
Magistrate James Candelaria stands with thirteen new U.S. citizens in front of the La Plata County Courthouse.

Immigrants from Mexico, Cambodia, Germany, and Russia gathered at the La Plata County Courthouse for their naturalization ceremony. This event was the first of its kind to take place in the city of Durango.

All new citizens must take the oath of allegiance at such a ceremony. But, before last week, candidates in the Southwest corner of Colorado would have to travel across the state.

Eva Rupp is Section Chief at Citizenship and Immigration Services in Denver, Colorado. She traveled to Durango to help officiate the ceremony.

“We have judicial ceremonies in Colorado Springs, Grand Junction now here in Durango, and also in Denver. It's a great service to the community to have ceremonies closer to where they live, and it's also just a wonderful thing for the community to see and to support our new citizens,” said Eva Rupp.

Juan Zavala is a newly naturalized citizen. He’s originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, and lives in Montrose, Colorado. Zavala spoke through a translator.

“I am very happy. I just accomplished something, something big. After all this time, to become a citizen, for it to come to fruition now… I say anything can be accomplished. Yes, we can! You can do anything. Have courage,” said Zavala.

Families of the thirteen newly naturalized citizens celebrate outside of the La Plata County Courthouse.
Clark Adomaitis
/
KSUT/KSJD
Families of the thirteen newly naturalized citizens celebrate outside of the La Plata County Courthouse.

Alfredo Fonseca lives in Bayfield, Colorado, and is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico. His wife was naturalized today. He had to travel to Denver last year for his naturalization ceremony.

“[We are] so happy. Today is the first time they make [the ceremony] here in Durango. We're so excited… not to drive too far to Denver,” said Fonseca.

The La Plata County courthouse plans to continue to host naturalization ceremonies.

Clark Adomaitis is a Durango transplant from New York City. He is a recent graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, where he focused on reporting and producing for radio and podcasts. He reported sound-rich stories on the state of recycling and compost in NYC.