‘New life’ mo­ti­vates new­est U.S. ci­ti­zens

Dozens of peo­ple from 15 coun­tries pledge their al­le­giance at Comer­ica Park cer­e­mony

The Detroit News - - Front Page - Bwilliams@de­troit­news.com (313) 222-2027 BY SARAH RAHAL The Detroit News sra­hal@de­troit­news.com (313) 222-1855 Twit­ter: @SarahRa­hal_

Detroit — Mariam Hani and her par­ents ran from Iraq to Amer­ica to find free­dom, they say.

They ar­rived in 2012, and af­ter they were res­i­dents in the U.S. for nearly five years, the fam­ily ap­plied to pledge their al­le­giance.

She said it was a te­dious process, but af­ter seven months, Hani, her mother and her fa­ther stood along­side 29 oth­ers and took their Oath of Al­le­giance on Comer­ica Park’s field.

“We came for free­dom. We came for a new life,” Hani said.

On Thurs­day, the United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices wel­comed the 33 new ci­ti­zens dur­ing a pregame cer­e­mony be­fore the Tigers played the Kansas City Roy­als.

The 33 new cit­i­zen­ship can­di­dates orig­i­nated from 15 coun­tries: Canada, China, France, In­dia, Iraq, Ire­land, Ja­maica, Ja­pan, Le­banon, Mex­ico, Philip­pines, South Korea, United King­dom, Turkey and Ye­men.

This was the 10th an­nual cer­e­mony held at Comer­ica Park near the Fourth of July. Cer­e­monies are tak­ing place al­most daily through­out the coun­try. For ex­am­ple, last year, im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices nat­u­ral­ized over 752,800 new ci­ti­zens, 15,200 from Metro Detroit alone, of­fi­cials said.

“We do four cer­e­monies a week, two ev­ery Mon­day and Thurs­day with about 80 peo­ple at each cer­e­mony,” said Michael Klinger, field of­fice di­rec­tor at the Detroit of­fice of the United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

This week, more than 15,000 new ci­ti­zens across the coun­try will take their oath at Fourth of July themed cer­e­monies — 1,500 in Detroit.

Of the new ci­ti­zens, Ge­orge Malk­oun, a Ster­ling Heights res­i­dent, said he waited 17 years be­fore be­com­ing a cit­i­zen be­cause it takes time.

“I got mar­ried in 2002, and I came for my wife. We wanted bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion. We wanted lib­erty, free­dom and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness,” Malk­oun said.

A U.S. cit­i­zen ap­pli­cant must be at least 18 years of age, a per­ma­nent res­i­dent with a green card for at least five years, phys­i­cally present for at least 30 months, must have knowl­edge of U.S. gov­ern­ment and history, be will­ing to take the Oath of Al­le­giance, able to speak, read, write and un­der­stand English and “be a per­son of good moral char­ac­ter.”

From the mo­ment the ap­pli­cant fills out an N-400 form, an ap­pli­ca­tion for nat­u­ral­iza­tion, it can be up to a seven-month wait­ing pe­riod un­til he or she takes the Oath of Al­le­giance, said Anita Rios Moore, pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cer for the United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices.

“I’ve done hun­dreds of these in court, but this is my first at Comer­ica Park, and it’s the most amaz­ing and such a spe­cial op­por­tu­nity for me,” said Stephen J. Mur­phy III, a U.S. Dis­trict judge for the East­ern Dis­trict of Michi­gan.

Eshraq Mo­hamed, 41, has been a res­i­dent for seven years of Dear­born af­ter she fled from Ye­men with her two chil­dren. Mo­hamed had two more chil­dren af­ter she ar­rived. Her youngest is now 5.

“I only come for free­dom and for my kids’ free­dom,” she said.

Along­side their cer­tifi­cates, the new ci­ti­zens re­ceived a packet to ap­ply for a U.S. pass­port and an Amer­i­can flag. Any chil­dren younger than 18 be­came ci­ti­zens through their par­ents’ oath as well.

Re­cently, the gov­ern­ment re­leased a free mo­bile app on iTunes and Google Play stores that helps pre­pare ap­pli­cants for the civics test dur­ing the nat­u­ral­iza­tion in­ter­view. The app, “USCIS: Civic Test Study Tools,” is avail­able in English and Span­ish.

Af­ter nat­u­ral­iza­tion, for­eign­born ci­ti­zens en­joy nearly all the same ben­e­fits, rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that the Con­sti­tu­tion gives to na­tive-born U.S. ci­ti­zens, in­clud­ing the right to vote.

Robin Buck­son / The Detroit News

Yu­bin Ge of Troy gives a thumbs up af­ter he be­comes a U.S. cit­i­zen be­fore Thurs­day’s Tigers game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.