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Six York County residents become U.S. citizens after swearing oath of allegiance

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Six people originally from countries including India, the Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom are now U.S. citizens after taking the oath of allegiance Tuesday afternoon on the steps of York County's old courthouse.

Harshit Patel, 24, of Stewartstown, has been in the United States for about 12 years, the past year in York County. He owns Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Shrewsbury and on Richland Avenue in Spring Garden Township.

"I like living in the United States," Patel said, adding it was important to him to become a citizen. Patel, from India, said he has family members living in this country.

Harshit Patel of Stewartstown is sworn in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony on the steps of the York County Administrative Center Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Six people became U.S. citizens during the event. Patel's country of origin is India. Bill Kalina photo

Erick L. Acosta, 24, of York, has lived in this country for more than a decade since moving here from the Dominican Republic.

"All of my family lives here," he said, adding he's grateful to have opportunities here that his home country didn't offer him, and grateful for the freedoms U.S. citizens enjoy.

"It means a lot to me," he said of being a U.S. citizen.

Acosta is a truck driver and said he loves his job.

Ercellys Soto Reynoso, 20, of West York, is also originally from the Dominican Republic and has been in the United States, and York County, for about seven years, she said.

She said being a citizen is important to her for the opportunities and benefits, such as being able to vote.

Ercellys Soto Reynoso of West York receives her papers from York County Common Pleas Judge Clyde Vedder during a naturalization ceremony on the steps of the York County Administrative Center Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Six people became U.S. citizens during the event. Her originating country is the Dominican Republic. Bill Kalina photo

About the future: Paul Barlow, 47, and 18-year-old daughter Paige Barlow, both of Dallastown, came here from Yorkshire, England, in 2007 so he could work at Voith Hydro Inc., he said.

Paige graduated in 2019 from Dallastown Area High School and is studying biology at Penn State York, hoping to become an oncologist, she said.

Paul Barlow's wife died in 2011, but he is now engaged to be married to Erika Winemiller.

"Life is about the future, not the past," he said.

Paul Barlow and his daughter Paige, 18, center, of Dallastown, are applauded by Paige's boyfriend Seth Balderston, left, and Paul's fiancee Erika Winemiller during a naturalization ceremony on the steps of the York County Administrative Center Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The Barlows originating country is the United Kingdom. They and 4 others became U.S. citizens during the event. Bill Kalina photo

Donisha E. Thompson also took the oath of allegiance on Tuesday afternoon. She left before a York Dispatch reporter could speak with her.

York County Common Pleas Judge Clyde W. Vedder administered the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the six, then led them in the Pledge of Allegiance. Passport clerk Chris Quigley sang the national anthem a cappella, which Vedder noted is always a hard act to follow.

Vedder congratulated the new citizens, then quoted late Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia about what makes an American. It's "the belief in the principles of freedom and equality that this country stands for," he said.

Tuesday's ceremony was the first of five planned outdoor naturalization ceremonies in York County. Prothonotary Allison Blew said after those are finished, there will be 20 more people who hopefully can be naturalized at the same time in a traditional indoor ceremony in late June.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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