Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016
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42 take oath; new citizens urged to use voting right


Enas Jaafar and her son, Mustapha Chouaib, 4, mark the occasion.


Though she was born in Thailand, Vipaporn Phuntumart said she plans to vote for Barack Obama in November.

Enas Jaafar, originally from Lebanon, also plans to vote Nov. 4, though she hasn't yet decided which candidate she'll support.

Ms. Phuntumart and Ms. Jaafar - and 40 other men and women - were sworn in yesterday as U.S. citizens in an emotional ceremony in the National City Bank Building in downtown Toledo.

"It's a delight, for a change, to preside over a room full of people who are happy," U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Ann Whipple said.

It was a fitting day - the anniversary of

George Washington's birth - for the immigrants from 24 nations on six continents to become citizens, Judge Whipple said.

During the ceremony, they took an oath of allegiance to the United States, swearing to uphold and defend the Constitution. Many of those who took the oath said they wanted to become citizens for the rights it includes - especially voting.

While the new citizens are not eligible to vote in the upcoming March 4 primary, Judge Whipple said, they will be able to vote in November.

"The best gift you can give yourself today is to fill out the [voter] registration papers," she said.

Tamara Brown, a native of Russia, is excited to be able to cast her ballot for the first time in the United States. She said she's also leaning toward Mr. Obama, a Democrat.

"We need something fresh," she said.

Ms. Brown said she wanted to become a citizen because America is her home now.

"I am very, very grateful to America," she said. "I am happy here."

Toledo Councilman George Sarantou, guest speaker at the ceremony, said the day reminded him of the immigrant journey of his own parents, who came from Greece.

"Like so many immigrants, they came here with nothing," he said.

Mr. Sarantou encouraged the new citizens to become involved in their neighborhoods, schools, and - most importantly - vote in every election.

"America is a land of unlimited opportunities," Mr. Sarantou said.

Those who were naturalized and their countries of origin were:

Australia - Steven Mark Griffiths.

Canada - Priya Chhugani and David Allan White.

China - Qinghong Li.

Colombia - Oscar Mauricio Becerra Ortiz.

Germany - Andrea Compton.

Ghana - Newlove Kwame Dogoe.

India - Praap Vardhana Gajjala, Radhika Gajjala, Praneeth Simha Katrapati, Rama Devi Katrapati, Sangeeta Saumin Mehta, and Vinita Singhania.

Iraq - Jean John Kouz.

Korea - Jung Hwa Hong.

Lebanon - Enas Mustapha Jaafar and Mohamad Hassan Saleh.

Mexico - Josefina Cruz, Imelda Gallegos, Luis Enrique Gomez, Maria Del Carmen Gonzalez, Alexander Jacinto Hernandez, Maria Guadalupe Rodriguez, and Gerardo Vazquez.

Pakistan - Khursheed Bibi Ahmad.

The Philippines - Joven Velasco Malanyaon, Agnes Miranda Mendoza, and Anamarie Pink

Poland - Maria Chrzanowski.

Peru - Gloria Castillo Sumaran.

Russia - Tamara Brown and Larisa Arkadyevna Russell.

South Africa - Moira Louise Kalakoda.

South Korea - Young Kun Park.

Sri Lanka - Venkataramana Gajjala.

Syria - Basel Youssef Mohammad.

Thailand - Vipaporn Phuntumart.

United Kingdom - Holly Louise Baker, Patricia May Fried, and Marion Kristek.

Vietnam - Uyen Thien Ho.

Yemen - Saba Yehya Saif Salim.

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