An American flag blows in the hot breeze during the opening on Day 1 of Fair St. Louis on the grounds of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis on July 4, 2018.

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

On The 4th Of July, 14,000 Became U.S. Citizens

This was the first Fourth of July that many people were able to call themselves U.S. citizens.

July 05, 2018 - 2:57 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - This was the first Fourth of July that many people were able to call themselves U.S. citizens after participating in naturalization ceremonies across the country.

More than 14,000 immigrants became American citizens on Wednesday.

In New Hampshire, more than 100 people from 48 countries became U.S. citizens during a ceremony at the Strawbery Banke museum in Portsmouth as part of the museum's annual American Celebration. A ceremony also was held aboard the USS New Jersey, where dozens of people from countries including Vietnam and Bangladesh were sworn in.

According to American Immigration Council, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held 175 naturalization ceremonies across the country on Independence Day.

The new citizens pledged allegiance to a country where some people lament that the ability to debate respectfully the toughest issues of the day seems hopelessly lost.

Several people were arrested Wednesday after hanging a banner from the Statue of Liberty's pedestal that called for abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Later, a protester climbed the statue's base, forcing the evacuation of Liberty Island, and stayed there for hours before police removed her.

A Department of Homeland Security report says a total of 163,000 people have become Americans during fiscal year 2018 - a 55 percent increase from the same period last year.