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Local Immigrants Complete Emotional Path To Citizenship

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100 local immigrants officially became American citizens at Southfield City Hall on Friday. (photo: Pat Sweeting)

100 local immigrants officially became American citizens at Southfield City Hall on Friday. (photo: Pat Sweeting)

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SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – There were a lot of smiles, cheers and tears as 100 new Americans collected their certificate of citizenship during a ceremony at the Southfield Civic Center on Friday.

After she walked across the stage to receive her certificate of citizenship, a choked up 58-year-old Jirmeen Jan Sisilian described how she feels.

“I think today I am newborn,” Sisilian said. “Thank you God, because I have come to America. No tears again, no more tears again.”

Sisilian emigrated to the U.S. five years ago. She said she came here to escape religious persecution of Christians in Iraq.

Jirmeen Jan Sisilian displays her citizenship certificate. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

Jirmeen Jan Sisilian displays her citizenship certificate. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

Mexico native José Pena arrived in the U.S. 23 years ago and is already looking to the future and his newly earned right to vote.

While he didn’t offer any names, Pena says he already knows who’ll get his vote November 5; particularly in light of what’s going on right now in Washington, D.C.

“You have to make hard decisions,” Pena said. “Things aren’t going well right now and that’s why we want to vote.”

The U.S. District Court Magistrate who conducted the swearing-in, Judge Mark Randon, made it clear to the people he welcomed that he is familiar with the path they’ve traveled to become Americans.

“I, myself, was not born in the United States, I was born in England in 1968,” Randon said to the crowd Friday. “I came over to the United States as a teenager at age 14 and my parents are from Jamaica. I remember thinking as I became a citizen of all the friends I left behind and just the new life that i was getting ready to begin in the United States.”

Like he did in 1995, Judge Randon told the new American citizens that, like him, they would come to this country because they believe in the American ideals such as democracy and religious freedom.

While many federal agencies have experienced reductions in service due to the partial government shutdown, Mick Dedvukaj, District Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, says the Naturalization Ceremony was not in any danger of cancellation

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is an agency within the department of Homeland Security,” Dedvukaj said. “We are open for business; even if the government is shut down, The American Dream is not.”

Dedvukaj urges anyone who is eligible and interested in applying for citizenship to go ahead and do so. In each of the past two years, he has seen an increase in applications for citizenship.

José Pena (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

José Pena (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

U.S. District Court Magistrate Mark A. Randon shakes hands with a new citizen. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

U.S. District Court Magistrate Mark A. Randon shakes hands with a new citizen. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

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