"Voting is what keeps you free," said new U.S. citizen

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - America and freedom were on display in a Tyler court room Wednesday.

"Is this a great day or what," asked Judge Judith Guthrie.

Mexico, Cambodia, Pakistan, Germany and Argentina; they come from around the world.

"My name is John Chang, and I'm from South Korea," said the now US citizen.

"God bless America," the music played. "Land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her. Through the night with a light from above..."

"My name is Grace Imoh, and I come from Nigeria," said the new U.S. citizen.

Imoh's husband watched on proudly. Grace has lived in the U.S. for ten years. She applied for citizenship seven years ago. But, because she couldn't establish residency she re-applied last May. Now, one year later she's an American.

"Oh, it's great," said Imoh. "It's a great feeling. Very good feeling. And, I have the freedom to vote."

"Voting is what makes you free," said Dee Brock. "Voting is what keeps you free."

"I would like to participate in voting," said Chang. "I always watch it on TV and things, but can't really do anything about it. And, so, it's a new life for me."

"I've been here since six years, but it took me about four years to become a citizen," said Shajera Syeda. "It was long, but eventually paid off."

Judge Guthrie presented the oath of allegiance to the United States of America, and asked if the citizen-hopefuls would swear to uphold that oath.

"Do you," she asked.

"I do," they replied.

"Welcome new citizens."

"I'm blessed to have the citizenship," said Imoh. "To have the freedom. This has become my home, and my home will it be."

Nine countries were represented in the courtroom. In 2008, more than 1,046,000 immigrants were naturalized in the United States. That's a record number.

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