Thou­sands, in­clud­ing Pi­noys, take US cit­i­zen­ship oath

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! -

Shortly af­ter pos­ing in front of a mas­sive Amer­i­can flag, 21-year-old Ira­nian im­mi­grant Erik Da­nialian said he was relieved to be­come a US ci­ti­zen in the wake of Trump's ban on trav­el­ers from seven pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim na­tions, in­clud­ing Iran.

"I feel safer," said Da­nialian, whose mother and sis­ter also be­came ci­ti­zens dur­ing the cer­e­mony. "I hope who­ever de­serves it gets a fair chance to come to Amer­ica."

Sofian Haikal of Syria said he also felt relieved to be­come a ci­ti­zen af­ter liv­ing in Los An­ge­les for four years, though he's wor­ried his par­ents won't get per­mis­sion to come the US to meet their three­month-old grand­son.

"We are suf­fer­ing from ter­ror­ism and there are bad peo­ple in our own coun­try, and we wouldn't like to be con­sid­ered one of them," said Haikal, a 36-year-old fi­nan­cial ad­viser. "There are a lot of good peo­ple over there that can par­tic­i­pate in the growth of this coun­try."

Haikal said he felt proud to be­come an Amer­i­can.

"It's one of the best coun­tries in the world," he said. "I like to be a ci­ti­zen of a coun­try that has lots of free­dom, democ­racy and equal rights."

Gevorg Ishkhanyan, an Ar­me­nian who be­came a US ci­ti­zen with his wife at the cer­e­mony, said he sup­ports the travel ban and Trump.

"Too many peo­ple want to live here," said the 39-year-old. "There are coun­tries that have dan­ger­ous peo­ple." His wife chimed in with a dif­fer­ent opin­ion. "Be­ing an im­mi­grant and say­ing there are too many peo­ple, it's kind of un­fair to other im­mi­grants," said Ana Ishkhanyan. "It's un­fair that peo­ple are be­ing judged by other peo­ple from their coun­tries."

She said she can't imag­ine liv­ing any­where but the US af­ter liv­ing in Los An­ge­les for five years. "It feels like home," she said.

The Ishkhanyans and more than 3,000 oth­ers took the cit­i­zen­ship oath in the morn­ing, and more than 3,500 oth­ers were ex­pected to take it in the af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to US Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices of­fi­cials.

They rep­re­sent 140 coun­tries, with the high­est num­bers from Mex­ico, Philip­pines, China, El Sal­vador, Gu­atemala and Iran.

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Rupin­der Garha, an im­mi­grant from In­dia, holds a small U.S. flag dur­ing a nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­mony at the Los An­ge­les Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, Wed­nes­day, Feb. 15, 2017, in Los An­ge­les. Thou­sands of peo­ple, some wip­ing tears from their eyes, be­came United States ci­ti­zens dur­ing the cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day.

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