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Immigrants become citizens on Independence Day in Raleigh

Posted July 4, 2013

— Independence Day held special meaning for 30 people who took the oath to become American citizens during a naturalization ceremony Thursday on the State Capitol grounds.

The ceremony was the culmination of a long journey for the newly minted citizens, who came from 23 countries to call the United States their new home.

“I came here and I love it. I got two kids,” said Marco Garcia, who moved to the U.S. seven years ago after meeting his wife in his native Ecuador.

Some struggled more than others to get here.

Marc Monace escaped persecution in Haiti after the 1994 coup that removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office. Monace’s father was in politics.

“I think 90 percent of his friends were either killed or tortured, and as a result, we were granted refuge to the U.S.,” Monace said.

30 take oath, become citizens in Raleigh ceremony 30 take oath, become citizens in Raleigh ceremony

Members of Uniting NC, a nonprofit that works to promote positive relations between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans, attended the ceremony to welcome the new citizens.

“Welcoming new immigrants is really what America is about,” said Dan Rearick of Uniting NC. “I think it’s a core American value, and I thing that’s a part of what July Fourth is all about.”

Manoj Bhatia, who moved to the U.S. from India, was assigned seat No. 13 during the ceremony.

“Lucky 13 – It’s been a good number for me,” he said. "Even though I was born somewhere else, I'm more part of America right now."

Taking the oath on the Fourth of July "couldn't have come on a better day," he said.

It's a day his wife, Shelley Bhatia, had been waiting for.

“Well, for one, we can travel together without him going through the other line,” she said.

Manoj Bhatia graduated in 2003 from North Carolina State University and now works as a project manager at Red Hat. He and wife met as undergraduates, and they now have two children.

"He's as much an American as any other guy," Shelley Bhatia said. "He's a big sports fanatic. NC State is his life. Football, basketball, any sport you can imagine – he loves it."

Shelley is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Fayetteville. For her father, Rajan Fhamdasani, this ceremony brings back memories.

“I remember the day I became a citizen - very, very emotional,” he said. “Once you’re naturalized, this is the end of your journey.”


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  • Capt. Obvious Jul 8, 2013

    Wait a minute, I thought the system was broke.

    So it does work, just another lie to allow criminals to become citizens...

  • dehd Jul 5, 2013

    That is exactly what we need, more folks that we have to learn their language instead of them learning ours.

  • ncouterbanks69 Jul 5, 2013

    "This won't sit well with Republicans at all. Immigrants becoming citizens. For shame. What next? Women getting the right to vote?"

    Actually since there would be fewer criminal illegals and some that actually do it the legal way democrats are probably rilled up. You know how you guys love criminals.

  • Smokin Jul 5, 2013

    Welcome to these and all who come here legally. If you want real immigration reform, streamline and shorten the current system which is often cost prohibitive.

  • lgjhere1 Jul 5, 2013

    An interesting new worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those foreigners who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it points out immigrants and minorities are a major force in America. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter identifies “foreigners” and minority members who became successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, US. Perhaps int

  • jedichick Jul 5, 2013

    Exactly, moonpie, and congratulations to America's newest citizens!! My mother came here, from Austria, right after WWII, and she remembers how happy she was to become a US citizen.

  • Offshore Jul 5, 2013

    RadioDJ, what will sit well with Republicans and it appears with most commenters here as well is that these are L-E-G-A-L immigrants who obtained their citizenship according to our L-A-W.
    I doubt that any of them sneaked over the border in the middle of the night. (not L-E-G-A-L)

    It should sit well with everyone when "legal immigrants" follow the laws and receive their citizenship. Illegal immigrants should follow the same model. Allowing illegal immigrants to become legal with the swipe of pen for votes is wrong.

  • bfortyme Jul 5, 2013

    This is great! They are no longer immigrants but American citizens. There are still some very ignorant people that will try to attach a ridiculous label to this group of citizens; but, I call them fellow Americans. There is a legal process and there is an illegal process to reside in America. It is problematic when American citizens (elected et al) assist those entering this country illegally.

    This demonstrates that the process works (albeit very, long in some instances).

  • moonpie Jul 5, 2013

    RadioDJ, what will sit well with Republicans and it appears with most commenters here as well is that these are L-E-G-A-L immigrants who obtained their citizenship according to our L-A-W.

    I doubt that any of them sneaked over the border in the middle of the night. (not L-E-G-A-L)

  • driverkid3 Jul 5, 2013

    This speaks volumes about these people that did this the legal way. I support them all the way, and congratulate them on taking this major step, and also welcome them as legal citizens of this great country. Thank you for taking the steps to do this.