Nearly 200 immigrants become Americans in ceremony at JFK Library

Nearly 200 immigrants from around the world became proud Americans on Wednesday in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Dressed in their finest suits and dresses, the immigrants were sworn in at the proceedings that were presided over by US District Court Judge William Young, library spokeswoman Rachel Flor said.

The new citizens brought family and friends to celebrate their accomplishments, Flor said, swelling their ranks to almost 500 and filling the Dorchester library’s Stephen E. Smith Center.

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“It’s clearly a day that has been a long time coming for these people,” she said.

The ceremony was held as immigration issues occupied the minds of many around the country, with Republican members of the US House of Representatives meeting behind closed doors Wednesday to strategize their response to a bipartisan immigration bill passed last month in the Senate.

Some conservative Republicans have said they would oppose any legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally.

Sponsored by the US Department of Justice and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Boston naturalization ceremony included the presentation of each new citizen with a commemorative edition of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

Kennedy was the grandson of Irish immigrants, as well as the nation’s first — and so far its only — Irish-Catholic president.

Flor said the library hosts naturalization ceremonies about six times a year, but each one is a uniquely meaningful experience.

“It’s always really a special event for the library to hold,” she said. “It’s always exciting for the new citizens, and they arrive clearly with a sense of pride, excitement, nerves. We just feel really honored to be part of such an important day in so many people’s lives.”