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Hoosier History Live

Nov 16, 2023

A rotating series on Hoosier History Live delves into the ethnic heritage of (and immigration to) Indiana. We have explored dozens of ethnic heritage groups, ranging from shows about Ukrainian immigration and Scottish heritage to the state's early Mexican heritage and the Arab heritage in Indianapolis. Many of the immigrants and refugees become U.S. citizens at naturalization ceremonies held at various venues.

This time, we will explore the topic from a different perspective: that of a federal judge who oversees many of the naturalization ceremonies. Judge James Sweeney of the U.S. District for Southern Indiana will be Nelson's studio guest to share insights about an aspect of his job that he considers among the most rewarding: officially making Indiana residents new American citizens.

What has been the homeland for the most immigrants at Judge Sweeney's naturalization ceremonies since he began his stint on the federal bench in 2018? He plans to share the answer during our show, as well as offer other observations about naturalization ceremonies that he's overseen. (The U.S. District for Southern Indiana includes a wide swath of central and southern Indiana, stretching from the Indianapolis metro area, Kokomo, Terre Haute and Richmond to Evansville, Bloomington and New Albany.) According to court officials, 1,333 residents of the district have been naturalized as U.S. citizens so far in 2023, with a total of 1,850 projected by the end of the year. The number declined during the Covid pandemic, when naturalization ceremonies were unable to be held for a few months. (In 2020, only 925 residents of the district were naturalized, compared to 2,286 in 2018.)