Over 400 take Oath of Allegiance as new citizens

Friday, August 10, 2012
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For Perpetual Garyeazon, there was only one word to describe her experience  last  month as she was sworn in as an American citizen during a naturalization ceremony at the Earl Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

“(I) am so happy,” said Garyeazon,  a native of Liberia. A beaming Garyeazon  said she was thrilled to be part of the process. She attended the ceremony with her aunt and cousin, Monnie, and was one of 431 people sworn in  as new citizens during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  naturalization ceremony.

According to Wanjirah Wanjiru, Adjudications Officer with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 431 individuals sworn in as new citizens represented more than 70 countries.

Judge Gregory Kishel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota  administered the Oath of Allegiance.

“I am a child of immigrants myself, my grandfather having come here from Europe,”Kishel said. “Our strength as a country comes from our diversity.”

Kishel told the new citizens that becoming an American citizen carries rights and responsibilities such as the ability to vote. Becoming an American citizen does not mean abandoning the culture of where you came from but is part of a new experience where all cultures are celebrated.

Judge Kishel’s message was reinforced by President Barack Obama. He told the new citizens via a video message to go forth and “be responsible citizens.”

The League of Women Voters was also present to register the new citizens as voters. For this particular ceremony the League partnered with Brooklyn Park based African immigrant Services (AIS), a local non-profit that focuses on civic engagement.

AIS Executive Director, Abdullah Kiatamba, said he was there to help with the registration of potential voters “because such process helps increase electoral participation of African immigrants in Minnesota,” he said. He prowled the aisles of the expansive hall collecting filled out voter registraion cards  after the ceremony and encouraged everyone to vote.

Garyeazon said she will do exactly that.

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About Tom Gitaa

Tom is the President and Publisher of Mshale and chair of the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC). As Mshale founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation.Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the DishNetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of  The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has previously served in the board of directors of Global Minnesota, the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has also previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa and. He sits on the board of the United Nations Association.