Juneau residents finish journey to citizenship

Juneau residents from other countries take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. to become American citizens at a ceremony on May 14, 2014. (Photo composite by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

Juneau residents from other countries take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. to become American citizens at a ceremony on May 14, 2014. (Photo composite by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

Juneau has 11 new American citizens. Immigrants from the Philippines, Mexico, Spain and South Korea took the oath of citizenship Thursday in U.S. District Court in Juneau. More than half were from the Philippines.

U.S. Magistrate Leslie Longenbaugh was the presiding judge. She said she looks forward to each naturalization ceremony.

“It’s completely inspiring to see people born in different nations raise their hands and swear an oath to become citizens of the United States of America,” she said. “Each generation of immigrants renews our national character and revitalizes our culture.”

For some, the journey to U.S. citizenship has been years and many said it had been a personal goal.

Maria Rosales has been in Juneau since 1998. She said she was happy to become a citizen, but one of her sons remains in Mexico. She said she has petitioned U.S. Immigration Services, but he has been denied entrance to the U.S. for ten years.

“I am so sad with this law. That’s why I want to be a citizen, to work and (do) whatever I can to review the laws, because the laws affected (sic) a lot of people,” Rosales said.

The next steps

Immigration officer Gary Johnson is based in Anchorage and comes to Juneau for naturalization ceremonies several times a year. He told the new citizens they should apply for their U.S. passport, social security card, and register to vote.

The new American citizens registered to vote before leaving the courthouse. (Photo by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

The new American citizens registered to vote before leaving the courthouse. (Photo by Rosemarie Alexander/KTOO)

But he told them not to put a picture of their naturalization certificate on Facebook.

“What we found is that with social media people would zoom in on the information that’s on the certificate and take over that individual’s identify. They’ve got their name, they got their alien registration number, and they have their certificate number. It can cause a lot of problems for the new citizen,” he said.

Before they left the courthouse, most of the new Americans registered to vote, with the assistance of the Juneau League of Women Voters.

 

(Full disclosure: Magistrate Longenbaugh is on the KTOO Board of Directors)

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