US gains 21 new citizens


U.S. District Court for the NMI magistrate judge Heather Kennedy, leftmost, poses with the 21 newly naturalized U.S. citizens at the CNMI federal courthouse. (KIMBERLY B. ESMORES)

The U.S. District Court for the NMI swore in 21 new U.S. citizens in a special naturalization ceremony yesterday in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

U.S. District Court for the NMI magistrate judge Heather Kennedy administered the oath of allegiance to 21 newly naturalized U.S. citizens in special ceremony at the CNMI federal courthouse.

Yesterday’s ceremony saw the naturalization of Rommel Tomas Angulo, Pinina Bote Cambronero, Azgar Ali Chokider, Consuelo Relano Cruz, Josefino Duenas Cruz, John Samuel Darag, Rolando Garcia Dela Cruz, Viviene Dispo Dela Cruz, Angel Nino Talaue Deray, Rosalito Velasco Estaque, Ronalyn Bautista Feffer, Renato Legapa Iglesias, Yolly Miclat Laborce, Bello Alidon Lumintegar, Bernarda Sabugo Montecarlo, Marilou Bruegas Ortega, Loida Fuentebella Pak, Jose Carlos Sula, Irene Alegre Valencia, Ramon Espinoza Valencia, and Rogelio Manzano Valencia.

While congratulating the newly naturalized citizens, Kennedy stated that diversity is the strength of the United States, the Commonwealth, and mostly the judicial system.

She stated that it’s through diversity that the judicial system is able to provide justice, especially through jury trials as a diverse, impartial jury pool ensures a fair trial for each citizen, should they face one.

Using this as a segue, Kennedy encouraged the new citizens to practice their newfound right to vote in the United States as this opens the door for them to one day be part of a jury.

The new citizens also heard a touching speech from Dr. Beyful Solomon, an associate professor at the Northern Marians College’s School of Education’s Rehabilitation and Human Services.

Like the newly naturalized citizens, Solomon shared that she herself was also an immigrant in the United States before becoming naturalized back in 2010.

“Not so long ago, I was sitting in your shoes, waiting to get naturalized. But before that, I remember how long it took to get a visa. I remember going through immigration and going through a separate line filled with people like me who had red passports and facing more scrutiny than those who held different passports. That’s where my journey began,” she said.

Solomon said that, like herself, becoming a citizen of the United States opens a window of opportunity for each and everyone of the new citizens.

“It really boils down to one word—opportunity. Citizenship provided me and provides you with an opportunity to work in any industry that you choose without worrying about what visa you hold. You can now apply for all kinds of federal financial aid to go to school, and overall it provides you the opportunity to change your destiny, your family’s, and the destiny of your generations to come starting from this day. The opportunities are endless,” she said.

She reminded everyone that with great opportunity comes the responsibility to give back to the country that gave them endless opportunities.

“You have the responsibility to become an active citizen. This means you now need to take part in this great democracy. But never forget where you came from, continue to share your culture because that’s what makes America so great. Diversity,” she said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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