New citizens sworn in, share in joy at ceremony
Bloomfield Hills — Christian Sogbaka waved a miniature American flag as he looked over his shoulder at his family.
"I'm feeling really good right now. I have been here for 15 years and now I can say that I'm an American citizen," said the 46-year-old, who was born in Ghana. "I now will have a lot of opportunities and better job choices. I'm just really happy right now."
Hosted by the American Human Rights Council, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services, and the Muslim Unity Center, 64 people from 30 countries took the oath to become U.S. citizens Friday at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills.
Imad Hamad, executive director for the American Human Rights Council, said it’s a special time for anyone becoming a U.S. citizen.
"Everyone is unique and brings something different to this country," Hamad said. "That is what makes America what it is because we are a nation of immigrants."
To become a U.S. citizen, each candidate was interviewed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, demonstrated the ability to read, write and speak words in the English language and had an understanding of the history and principles of the United States.
Moraad Assabri, 5, hugged his mom, Mona Almaliki, 30, after she received her citizenship certificate.
"I'm very excited to be an American," said Almaliki, who is from Yemen. "We were scared at first because of what was going on and seeing how some people would think Muslims were all bad, but everyone has been very loving and supportive of us. We love being here."
To help make the transition of becoming a U.S. citizen easier, Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown helped residents with registration so they would be able to vote in the upcoming election.
As everyone stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance, some people began to tear up as they watched their family members.
"I'm so proud of my dad," said Sogbaka's daughter, Briana Denson, 20, of Canton Township. "U.S. history is very difficult to grasp and retain, but he studied really hard and passed the test. He is an example of what America represents, hard work and determination."