Twenty-five persons from five countries took their oaths yesterday as new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court for the NMI.
Originally from the Philippines, China, Russia, Jamaica, and South Korea, the new citizens were welcomed yesterday to the ranks of “American citizens” by Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. Chatfield, who served as the guest speaker.
For Guiyue Jin Reyes, 35, it took all of 16 years for her to get to that point. Originally from China, Reyes first arrived on Saipan in April 2001 to work as a warehouse associate at a garment factory. She got married here and she and her husband now have four children.
She didn’t think so much about the benefits afforded U.S. citizens but more about having the same status as her family. “It’s about time for me to change my citizenship,” she said.
Reyes currently works as a customer service associate at ABC Store.
Another new U.S. citizen, Svetlana V. Hunter, 29, was inspired by Chatfield’s speech at the ceremony.
“I think the whole ceremony just made me feel even more excited about my new journey,” she said.
From Russia, Hunter moved to New York City six years ago, then came to Saipan in September 2013. She eventually decided to stay here and got married in December 2013.
Chavel T. Green, a native of Jamaica, waited five years to obtain her citizenship. Her daughter, who is in Florida, petitioned her.
“I am very elated. I am proud to be a U.S. citizen,” said Green. “It’s really a good feeling.”
Green arrived on Saipan in August 2012 to work at the Northern Marianas College.
Elena P. Uberita, 72, a native of San Fernando, La Union, arrived on Saipan in 2015. Before coming here, she spent three years in Illinois. Her daughter petitioned her and her 67-year-old husband, Crisanto A. Uberita.
Crisanto Uberita, an accountant, used to work on Saipan so they decided to stay on the island.
Chatfield thanked U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona for giving her the opportunity to be one of the first to greet the group as “my fellow Americans.”
Chatfield said she looks at all of the new citizens with great pride.
“Regardless of your point of origin, background, or lifestyle, you have all made the same decision: to raise your right hand and pledge allegiance to the United States of America,” she said.
Chatfield said it is both a beautiful and inspiring sight to see this group of dedicated people.
“Being an American is synonymous with being a free person, and that is not an opportunity afforded to all,” she said.
Aside from Reyes, Hunter, Green, and the Uberita couple, the other new citizens are Wilfredo A. Abu, Abigail S. Babauta, Janeth G. Barcinas, Chona M. Borja, Jung Jin Yang Castro, Erlinda P. Delos Santos, Orcesino Z. Echalico, Rhodora E. Gottwald, Ernesto E. Javier, Melinda B. Javier. Leonarda S. Lacandazo, Fidel P. Mallari Jr., Liezl B. Manacop, Virginia M. Marinas, Ailene A. Miranda, Ma Shieriline F. Owens, Kil Hong Pae, Rex John S. Penaroyo, Xiaohua Satterfield, and Victor R. Vino.