New citizens sworn in at the Old Courthouse

New citizens sworn in at the Old Courthouse

DOWNTOWN – It is the side of American immigration that doesn’t get as much attention these days. Forty-nine people from a variety of nations stood before a federal judge in the rotunda of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday and were sworn in as American citizens.

Not only did they have the traditional swearing-in ceremony, but the group was also given a pep talk by a St. Louis Blues hockey legend. Bobby Plager, whose number is retired by the team, has walked their path, naturalizing as an American citizen in 2004. He was born and raised in Canada.

“Your dreams can happen. You have to work hard,” Plager told the new Americans. “Right now you have one dream. Keep on dreaming. Your dreams do come true.  Mine have.”

Some in the group have waited for decades. Kamir Tirwa said his journey lasted more than three decades.

“I never had this privilege before,” he said. “It’s an honor to be a U.S. citizen.”

People from 23 different countries were sworn in.