Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Area's newest U.S. citizens eager for all the privilege, and right to complain, that comes with citzenship


Judge Jack Zouhary, left, with new citizen Rokya Toure Miller, originally from Cote D'Ivoire.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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They hadn’t even been officially sworn in as new American citizens yet. But Amal Fares Abufares of Jordan and Marlene Marcia Chybar of Jamaica agreed that the first thing they’ll do as voting Americans is lobby for raising speed limits in Ohio.

“I’d say increase the speed limits and get rid of those traffic cameras,” said Ms. Chybar, whose comments prompted her and Ms. Abufares to burst into laughter. The women both live in Toledo.

It’s not that the women don’t like America, they were just eager to be sworn in as U.S. citizens and begin using their new rights and freedoms, including; having the ability to vote, choose their own career, and complain about something the government is doing if they don’t like it.

The two women were among 58 people who took the oath of U.S. citizenship during a naturalization ceremony held today in the Toledo Zoo’s indoor theatre of its historic Museum of Science.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos from the ceremony

Federal District Court Judge Jack Zouhary, who presided over the ceremony, encouraged the new citizens to become involved in their communities by voting, serving on jury duty, becoming volunteers in community groups, or even assisting a neighbor in need.

“America’s strength comes from its diversity,” Judge Zouhary said.

For Heriberto Chavez, 30, of Mexico, the citizenship ceremony was the end of a long journey for him. When he was 8, he came to the United States with several relatives who settled in Archbold. He never considered returning to Mexico.

“This is the only home I know,” Mr. Chavez said. “The people I grew up with live here, my friends; this is the best thing I know.”

Mr. Chavez noted that many of the speakers today made it sound like America is perfect. That’s not true, he said, noting there’s lots of discrimination, political turmoil, and other serious problems.

“But if you become a citizen you can have a voice in that,” he said. “Becoming a citizen finally means I’ve become an American, I’m no longer an outsider.”

Contact Federico Martinez at: or 419-724-6154

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