Planning for the event began early last week when White House officials reached out to the Washington office of the citizenship and immigration agency with a request to organize a naturalization ceremony at the White House, according to a senior administration official. Naturalization ceremonies have been held at the White House under previous presidents and Mr. Trump himself, but this appears to be the first time one has been broadcast during a political convention.
As the weekend approached, the White House officials requested information about the potential candidates for the ceremony and suggested the agency find immigrants from Mexico — something of a turnaround from Mr. Trump’s usual messaging on Mexico. When he announced his candidacy in 2015, he warned of Mexican “rapists” coming to the United States, and he has spent nearly four years trying to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. But Mr. Trump has been more complimentary this year after Mexico directed security forces to halt migration from Central America.
As it happened, no one from Mexico was at the ceremony.
Ms. Narayanan, from India, had traveled to the United States with her husband, who came on a student visa. Ms. Narayanan accompanied him on an F2 visa that allows spouses and dependents of foreign students at American schools to temporarily stay in the United States. In July, the Trump administration proposed stripping international students of their visas if they exclusively took online courses during the coronavirus pandemic, but after an outcry from colleges and universities, the rule was rescinded.
Ms. Narayanan, who has two children born in the United States, obtained lawful permanent residency in 2013. She said she took her citizenship test and had her required interview just a week before she received a call about the ceremony at the White House.
“It was very warm and welcoming,” Ms. Narayanan said of the event with the president. “I told him it was such an honor to meet him.”
Ms. Awadelseid, from Sudan, studied at the University of Wyoming twice, first to get her master’s in the early 1980s and then her doctorate in 1994. She said both degrees were in animal nutrition. She arrived in the United States permanently in 2000, and eventually got a green card through sponsorship by her brother, who had already become a citizen.
“The situation in Sudan was really not good politically and economically and everything,” she said. “When we found the chance to be a permanent resident here in the U.S.A., we stayed.”