KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nearly 150 people who arrived in East Tennessee from across the world are now American citizens after they were naturalized on Tuesday morning.
Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips presided over the ceremony at the City Council Building. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Bryan Hair, Chief of Staff for Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, welcomed the new citizens.
It was the second ceremony this month. Between the two -- Knoxville has welcomed more than 300 new citizens to the country. Today's ceremony came just in time for the holidays.
"This season is always special, and is extra special now because of this ceremony and now the coming years... it's kind of like Christmas coming early," Olawle Arawa said.
Tuesday's ceremony was one of the last court proceedings for Judge Phillips. He is retiring at the end of the month after serving as a federal judge for 28 years.
This was also Mayor Rogero's final naturalization ceremony before Indya Kincannon takes office. She told the new citizens they will make America -- and Knoxville -- stronger.