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Farhana Haque entered the Clinton-Macomb Public Library on Friday as an immigrant from Bangladesh, but left as an American.

Haque was one of 49 people who were sworn in as new citizens during a naturalization ceremony that was part of National Welcoming Week.

“It was really exciting,” the 21-year-old from Warren said after the ceremony. “My family is so proud.”

The new citizens came from 18 countries.

“I know this has been a long and arduous journey,” U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh said before administering their oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and uphold its laws. “You’ve risked your lives, your futures to provide better for your children. We are all the beneficiaries of your great sacrifice.”

Steeh was joined by Michael Klinger, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Detroit field office; Steve Gold, director of Macomb County’s Health and Community Services Department; and Bob Cannon, Clinton Township’s supervisor.

“Immigration is a topic we see a lot in the news and, unfortunately, sometimes it’s perceived to be somewhat controversial,” Klinger said. “I want you to know that this naturalization ceremony is not controversial. You are not controversial. We are a nation of immigrants, and our diversity is what makes it great.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates it will welcome more than 38,000 new citizens during nearly 240 naturalization ceremonies held this week.

Cannon told the group they are welcome and wanted in his community.

“However you came here, the United States of America is now your home,” he said. “This is a very important day in your lives, and I am thankful to be able to share it with you.”

Before they were officially sworn in, Gold told the new citizens his great-grandfather was just like them, an immigrant seeking a better life in America. He even held up a copy of his great-grandfather’s naturalization papers.

“Those of you who are about to become naturalized citizens, think of this — maybe in 118 years, your great-grandson or your great-granddaughter will honor your memory and remember your name with gratitude because you brought them the tremendous gift of United States citizenship,” he said. “I welcome you to your new lives as United States citizens.”

The ceremony at the library on Romeo Plank near Canal was hosted by OneMacomb, a program designed to celebrate cultural diversity and inclusion in the county. OneMacomb is part of the county’s Health and Community Services Department.

National Welcoming Week, organized by the Decatur, Georgia-based nonprofit Welcoming America, is an annual series of events that aim to raise awareness about the benefits of immigration.

After the ceremony, Joe Karem, 37, also of Warren, said he was proud now to be an American citizen. Karem, who was born in Iraq, was accompanied by his wife, Ameera Youssef, 28, and their daughter, Oneila, 2.

“I’m glad to be a citizen,” he said.

Added Youseff, who became a citizen herself about three years ago: “I’m so happy.”

CRamirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058

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