45 take citizenship oath in naturalization ceremony in Warren County

Naturalization ceremony marks happy occasion and major accomplishment

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

After spending five or more years as a permanent resident with a “green card,” 45 people from 21 nations officially became U.S. citizens and were sworn in Thursday by a federal judge before family and friends.

The Miami Valley’s newest citizens took their oath of citizenship at Springboro High School that was administered by U.S. bankruptcy Judge Guy R. Humphrey.

Each of the people swore to give up their past allegiances to their home nations, to bear arms for the United States when required by law, and to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Humphrey said presiding over naturalization ceremonies is something he can do outside the federal bankruptcy court in Dayton. A Springboro resident, Humphrey said Thursday’s ceremony was his second to preside over.

“It’s an incredible experience,” Humphrey said. “It’s the happiest thing we get to do. It’s really wonderful to see the people.”

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

He also likes to see the ceremonies done at schools or colleges because it ties in with the civics education.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to preside over these ceremonies,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey said each year there are about 16 to 18 naturalization ceremonies with 100 or more people performed in the Dayton region of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. He said the court’s Cincinnati and Columbus regions have ceremonies two to three times more than the Dayton region.

Latifa Sabri, who immigrated from Morocco, said she was very happy to complete the citizenship process.

“She’s been waiting for five years,” said Hamza Sabri, her son. “She failed the test the first time but after studying for more than a year, she got it the second time.”

He said his father was very proud of his wife and hugged her very hard after she passed the test. Hamza Sabri said he became a U.S. Citizen a few years ago.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Those applying for citizenship are tested on their ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English as well as on American History and government. Those who fail the test the first time have two opportunities to retest.

A person must wait a minimum of five years after receiving permanent residence to apply for citizenship. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services interviews immigrants, conducts the testing and verifies they are ready to become citizens. If the new citizens have children under age 18, they can file papers to become U.S. Citizens with them.

“I’m happy,” said Joel Mugisha.

Mugisha was born in Congo (Kinshasa) and spent 18 years in a refugee camp in Uganda. He said he earned perfect scores on English and history/government tests.

The new citizens came from around the world -- from Afghanistan, China, Congo (Kinshasa), Cuba, Eritrea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zaire.

More than half of the new citizens in Thursday’s ceremony were from four nations: 11 were from Congo (Kinshasa); six from Eritrea; four from Vietnam; and two from Senegal.

Also in attendance were Springboro Mayor John Agenbroad, Springboro Schools Superintendent Carrie Hester and Springboro Schools Treasurer/CFO Terrah Stacy as well as court and CIS personnel. The Springboro High School Chamber Choir performed the National Anthem for the audience.

The League of Women Voters of Dayton was also on hand to encourage the new citizens to fill out their voter registration forms so they can perform one of their rights of a citizen -- voting.

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