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America's new citizens celebrate

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 10/24/2013 7:33 pm
ABERDEEN, Miss. (WTVA) -- It's the culmination of the path to citizenship.

Fifty people held their hands high Thursday and took the naturalization oath.

They gathered at the United States Northern District of Mississippi Courthouse in Aberdeen.

"I'm now finally an American citizen, and I'm very happy. That's my dream," Rachel Libonfhil Rogers of the Phillippines said.

"It's been a long time, but now I am officially an American citizen. Very excited," Liberia native Jimmy Potepa said.

"We did it the easy way. We were born with it. They came and asked to be and went through all the hoops to become that," Dr. Marty Wiseman of the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government said.

The hoops are many.

These new citizens are from such countries as Yemen, Argentina, Pakistan, Thailand and China.

Fourteen of the new citizens are from Mexico.

The process includes background checks that are more extensive than ever. It can take from a few years to more than five to navigate the naturalization process.

Watching closely were Mantachie High School students invited by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock.

"They have an opportunity, I think, to remember that they're very blessed to be Americans," Aycock said.

"It's good sometimes to hear and see the process that it takes for other people from all around the world — 26 countries represented here today —  to see what it takes to be an American citizen," Mantachie High School student Sam Farris said.

Knowing full well what it takes is Abdulkarim Mohamed Saleh and his wife Brenda.

"This is a very important day for me. I'm a citizen American, and I love America, and I love everybody coming," Mohamed Saleh said.

"It means a lot to me because now they can't take him away from me and send him back, so it's a great day for me, too," Brenda Saleh said.

It's a great day and one which comes as Congress is expected to begin the debate over immigration reform.
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