Helen Shores Lee, a circuit judge with the 10th Judicial Court of Alabama, was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s naturalization ceremony in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.
Lee said it is a privilege and honor to be the first one to congratulate the 19 newest U.S. citizens.
“Today we celebrate the American dream,” said Lee at the naturalization ceremony that was also called “Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony.”
She said much of King’s dreams had been realized, but there’s a lot more to be done. She reminded the newest U.S. citizens that they have responsibilities to uphold the principles of equality, freedom, and democracy.
“I hope you choose to be involved,” Lee said. “Choose to make a positive contribution to the community you live.”
Lee became the first African-American woman to serve in the Civil Division of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.
Lee is on island as a guest speaker of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council’s special program to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the CNMI on Monday at the American Memorial Park Theater. She will make a series of presentations at public and private high schools and give a continuing legal education presentation to members of the CNMI Bar Association, among other activities.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona administered the oath to the 19 new U.S. citizens. Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan also joined the ceremony.
Inspired by Lee’s speech, Aurora Dupitas Desebel, 65, told Saipan Tribune shortly after the ceremony that she is very proud to be a U.S. citizen and that she will follow the law and get involved in the community.
Desebel, who is a native of Tarlac, the Philippines, said she will exercise her right to vote and enjoy the benefits of being a U.S. citizen.
Desebel first came to Saipan in 1992, and was engaged in the fishing business. She is married to Ignacio Desebel. She currently works as a customer care representative at IT&E.
Susan Romare Fujihira, 49, also a native of the Philippines, said she is happy and proud to be an American citizen and she need not worry anymore about the hassles of traveling off-island.
Fijihira first came to the island in 1994, working as a gas attendant. She is married to Thomas Fujihira for seven years now. At present, she works as a cashier at Kanoa Resort.
The 17 other new U.S. citizens are Reynaldo Abrenica Rafanan, Rouf Abdur, Tina Cereta Anglin, Jocelyn Tupas Atalig, Norlyn Pintor Cabrera, Qinghui Chen-Engelhart, Marcelina Hermitano Baysa, Julie Centina Hall, Ariuntungalang Barbaatar Lamarche, Ningning Li, Louisa Tinan Moolang, Dolores Bacani Muna, Aida Ballesteros Pangelinan, Yaowapha Chaphoophuang Rabauliman, Nelly Imperial Sanchez, Romeo Rivera Sanchez, and Sydie Panisales Taisacan.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer Diane Zedde presented to the court the 19 petitioners, who are mostly from the Philippines.