Drive-thru ceremonies for new American citizens amid pandemic

Drive-thru ceremonies for new citizens amid pandemic
Drive-thru ceremonies for new citizens amid p... 02:40

In America, you can get almost anything in a drive-thru – now, including one very happy spiel: The oath of allegiance to become a U.S. citizen.

Crazy as it looks, this is how the American dream now starts. Immigrants who've completed all the requirements of citizenship are pulling into parking lots from San Diego, to Des Moines, to Detroit for socially distant naturalization ceremonies.

In Albany on Thursday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services minted 59 brand new Americans, and all from the cabins of their cars.

That includes Sashikala Subbiah, who emigrated from India.

"So, what is different now in the 5 minutes you've been a U.S. citizen?" CBS News asked. 

"The feeling of elation and delight and happiness," she responded with a laugh. 

Kwame Asante came to the U.S. from Ghana in the early '80s. 

"Just to be an American is like close to paradise," he said. "It's given me so many opportunities."

Kwame works as a respiratory therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York. He's in the thick of this pandemic — but he said he's not scared, now that he's a proud American.

"Even if I die today, I'm OK," he said. 

This pandemic has changed so many of our routines.  Fortunately, there's no ruining moments of love, pride, acceptance and gratitude. That's why not even a drive-thru ceremony can dampen the joy of being here to stay.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.