From left, Maria Bautista, Marina Odeesho, Devanath Zeddy and Sister Dedaj say the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony March 1 at the Macomb Intermediate School District. Bautista, from the Philippines, now lives in Warren; Odeesho, from Iraq, now lives in Sterling Heights; Zeddy, from India, now lives in Auburn Hills; and Dedaj, from Montenegro, now lives in Rochester Hills.

From left, Maria Bautista, Marina Odeesho, Devanath Zeddy and Sister Dedaj say the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony March 1 at the Macomb Intermediate School District. Bautista, from the Philippines, now lives in Warren; Odeesho, from Iraq, now lives in Sterling Heights; Zeddy, from India, now lives in Auburn Hills; and Dedaj, from Montenegro, now lives in Rochester Hills.

Photo by Deb Jacques


U.S. welcomes 50 new citizens in naturalization ceremony

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 4, 2019

 Tyron Kiyodi, 6, is originally from Kenya and now lives in Wixom. His father, Laban, was naturalized.

Tyron Kiyodi, 6, is originally from Kenya and now lives in Wixom. His father, Laban, was naturalized.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MACOMB COUNTY — On March 1, the United States officially welcomed 50 new citizens from 24 countries across five continents.

Albania, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, Syria, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Vietnam and former Yugoslavia — those are the native countries of the new Americans.

The new citizens took an oath during a naturalization ceremony at the Macomb Intermediate School District, in Clinton Township, while family, friends and students from Macomb County schools watched and applauded.

The Center Line High School color guard opened the festivities, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Local and state lawmakers were in attendance.

MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault spoke about the new citizens’ preparation in learning about the U.S. He encouraged involvement, attending to civic duties like voting, and preserving democracy — which he said is “central to the future of this country.”

He also referenced a quote from late Congressman John Dingell, who said that in democracies, elected officials do not have power, they hold power.

Daniel Broughton then took the mic. Broughton, a section chief with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told a story about a woman decades ago who left war-torn El Salvador and escaped to Mexico for refuge. She eventually became a U.S. citizen and fought for others’ rights.

“This woman is my wife,” Broughton said.

He discussed the importance of cultural integrity, and how new citizens are encouraged to uphold their customs and pay homage to their heritage. He said citizenship provides freedoms and rights, saying this nation is “more tolerant and more inclusive” if people from all backgrounds take advantage of everything the U.S. has to offer.

Judge David R. Grand, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, said naturalization ceremonies remind him of the Olympics.

“Every day is like the Olympics, with people of all different backgrounds,” he said, adding that the duty of being a citizen “carries with it a lot of tremendous rights and responsibilities.”

He said diversity enriches a nation in multiple ways, in fields like science and technology, and that collaboration instills a better-functioning society.

“You always have the opportunity to be your best self,” Grand told the new Americans.

Joslyn Le is a new citizen. She left Vietnam for the U.S. seven years ago and lives in Warren.

“(Being a citizen has) allowed me to have the opportunity to grow,” Le said. “More importantly, I can set up a life here. It’s a chance to see the world better.”

She said her reasons for becoming a citizen include the rights and the protections against the perils faced by female immigrants. As she put it, “Nobody can tell me I can’t stay here for any kind of reason.

“If you’re a female and an immigrant, I have seen a lot of tough stories. … The only way for a person to really understand how tough it is for an immigrant’s life is to actually be very understanding and try to be sympathetic,” she said. “As long as U.S. citizens learn to be very sympathetic, they will feel our pain. And a lot of pain is untold.”

Hassan Alsuesseini is from Iraq. Now a resident of Macomb County, he has lived in the U.S. for nine years, formerly living and working in Tennessee.

When asked how it felt to officially be a citizen, he smiled widely and said it was “very good.”

“I want to do everything for America,” he said. “I own my house. I buy everything, working good. I found a very good job. As a citizen, be everything you can be, and it will set you free.”