Press Release
June 14, 2023

Naturalization Ceremony for 98 new citizens kicks off World Refugee Week

SALT LAKE CITY (June 14, 2023) –– To kick off World Refugee Week, 98 individuals, including several refugees, became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Utah State Capitol today.

After completing all of the rigorous requirements to become citizens, including passing the civics test, speaking English and residing in the U.S. for at least three years, immigrants recited the Oath of Allegiance and became official citizens. Utah Rep. Ray Ward, chair of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, welcomed new citizens.

“This act of becoming a citizen is an incredible milestone in your journey forward,” said Ward. “When we see the work you have done to become citizens, it reminds us of the great privileges many of us have had just by being born here, and it reminds us to be grateful for what we have, and when we remember those things - that makes us better people. It is an honor to celebrate this achievement with you and officially welcome you as our state's newest citizens.”

Utah is home to more than 65,000 refugees from more than 21 different countries. Over the past two years Utah has resettled a record number of refugees and humanitarian parolees, with 1,200 expected to be resettled in 2023. Today’s naturalized citizens represented 48 countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Congo, El Salvador, Fiji, Iraq, Norway, Mexico, Philippines, Tonga, Sudan and Ukraine.

Desange Kuenihira, a refugee from Congo and author of the newly released book “ Undefeated Woman,” shared her experience becoming a U.S. citizen and encouraged those in attendance to embrace the good in life and lift others along the way.

Utah is joining in the international celebration of World Refugee Day on Friday, June 16, from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Big Cottonwood Regional Park (4300 S. 1300 E., Millcreek) will be filled with sights and smells from all over the world. Free activities for families include music and entertainment, storytelling, a global market featuring refugee entrepreneurs and the chance to sample incredible international cuisine. More information is at or