“No matter what happens in our life, we will always have this,” said Rep. Armstrong, laughing.
Kjersti Armstrong and nearly 160 others were sworn in as U.S. citizens in Fargo on Tuesday, September 14. Four separate naturalization ceremonies, with around 40 people per session, took place at the Sanctuary Events Center, amid restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Armstrong joined citizenship applicants from 43 countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, India, Iran, Peru, Somalia, South Africa, United Kingdom United, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Applicants live in 19 different towns and cities in North Dakota and on Air Force bases in Grand Forks and Minot.
U.S. 8th Circuit Judge Ralph Erickson presided over the final two ceremonies, administering the Oath of Allegiance. He told the new citizens that while it is “their day”, it is actually more important to the collective of the United States.
“This is true because the lifeblood of America has always been the blood of immigrants,” Erickson said.
Representative Armstrong, who also addressed the group, said he could relate to their experience because his wife Kjersti was among them.
“Today is unique for us because we can finally call ourselves fellow citizens. Now I have to win his vote, ”said the congressman.
The day before the ceremony, Kjersti Armstrong told the Forum that she was thrilled to be in a room with many people who went to great lengths to choose to be American.
“It’s special to be a part of it,” she said.
Kjersti Armstrong, wife of Representative Kelly Armstrong, RN.D., takes the oath of citizenship during her naturalization ceremony with 39 other people on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at the Sanctuary Events Center, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
The two met on the first day she arrived in Grand Forks in the early 2000s as part of a law exchange program between the University of Oslo in Norway and the University of North Dakota.
Seeing her, he told a friend that law school just got “a lot more interesting.”
“I joked at her at the time and said, ‘I’m going to marry this girl,’” he said.
“The rest is history,” she added.
They started dating soon after, and when she returned to Norway at the end of the semester, they maintained their transatlantic relationship.
“It was hard. Seven hour time difference and student budgets for travel, so we put a lot of effort into making it work, ”she said.
They will be engaged for a year and will get married in Norway in 2004.
Along the way he graduated in law and she obtained degrees in Norwegian and American law.
Kelly, 44, and Kjersti, 42, have two children, Anna, 13, and Eli, 11, and the family live in Bismarck.
Kjersti Armstrong could have become an American citizen years ago, after their marriage, but would have had to give up her Norwegian citizenship to do so.
While the United States allows dual citizenship, she said Norway had only accepted it for a year and a half. “This is the time it took to overcome the COVID delays to get to the citizenship ceremony,” she said.
Regarding Kjersti, Representative Armstrong said having a relationship and marrying someone who grew up in another country allowed him to see other cultures and perspectives.
“She’s made me better at everything I do in my life but… especially when it comes to politics and immigration and stuff like that, I think it’s been helpful,” the member said. Congress.
Representative Armstrong said making the legal processes around immigration and citizenship a little less burdensome would be beneficial for everyone.
Even though he and his wife both have law degrees, he said, the citizenship process has been frustrating. “I can’t imagine what new Americans are going through who don’t have that kind of training or resources that we have,” he said.
Kjersti Armstrong is grateful to have finally arrived at this stage, 17 years of preparation.
“My children are Americans. My husband is American. I feel American, so I can’t wait to have this ceremony to solidify and formalize this ceremony, ”she said.