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Shutdown can't stop new citizens

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Konstantin Korolev woke up Monday morning wondering if he'd still become an American citizen.

"I thought about calling, but then I realized if no one was there no one would answer the phone, so I decided to come anyway," the Russian native said.

Despite the government shutdown, 54 people became American citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Robert C. Byrd U.S. District Courthouse in Charleston on Monday.

"They've each worked so hard, if the government would've deprived them of this moment it would've been a tragedy," U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin said after the ceremony.

Teresa Deppner, clerk of court for the Southern District of West Virginia, said last week that federal courts would be able to operate for at least 10 days if the government shuts down. After Oct. 15, the situation would be reassessed, she said.

Korolev left Russia to make a new life in the United States. He beamed during the ceremony, but admitted after he's worried about the shutdown.

"I wish an agreement would be made," he said.

The new citizens didn't let the shutdown interfere with their celebration of becoming American citizens. The group sang "Country Roads" and "The Star Spangled Banner" and posed for pictures with their certificate of citizenship.

West Virginia State University President Brian Hemphill told them that no matter what they've been through, "you're now an American" and "I'm proud to call you my fellow countrymen and women." 

"This country has been through much worse," said Naveed Zaman, who came to the United States from Pakistan with his wife, Shaista Akram.

"It's still better here," she added. "I'm very happy to be here."

Goodwin reminded the group to register to vote. "That's one of the benefits of being an American citizen -- you get to pick your leaders. I'm sure right now you all feel like you'd like to pick some," he said, drawing laughter from the courtroom.

Dib Ahmad Attie has wanted to move to the United States from Lebanon since he was first introduced to Elvis Presley's music in the 1960s.

"I feel like Superman," he said after the ceremony about becoming an American citizen. "I've been waiting for this for a long time."

While Attie hasn't kept a close eye on what's going on in Washington D.C., he hopes members of Congress can eventually work things out.

"They need to be taking steps to move forward," he said.

*

The full list of new American citizens naturalized at Monday's ceremony, and their former countries, includes:

Shaista Akram, Pakistan; Leena Anil, India; Suhaib Ased, New Zealand; Dib Ahmad Attie, Lebanon; Juan De Dios Barrios Fuentes, Mexico; Maureen Aryeri Batista, Costa Rica; Anjumara Begum, Pakistan; Manuela Ines Beverlin, Italy; Yolanda Yvonne Campbell, Canada; Mei Chen, China; Xiao Bin Chen, China; Gail Dianne Clements, United Kingdom; Krishna Mohan Davuluri, India; Xuan Hong Do, Vietnam; Christopher Easton Dean Evans, Jamaica;

Derrick Courtney Gibson, United Kingdom; Maria Del Rocio Gillispie, Mexico; David Maxwell Harris, Canada; Houda Hirbli, Syria; Jalila Said Hodroj, Lebanon; Mihai Istrate, Romania; Seraphin Junior Stander Joseph, Haiti; Tsukasa Kambara, Japan; Alnairouz Katrib, Syria; Muhammed Aslam Khan, Pakistan; Konstantin Albertovich Korolev, Russia; Fitz Andrew Leung, Jamaica; Marilu Cubilla Lowe, Panama;

Uchechukwu Chiamaka Maduako, Nigeria; Igor Ernesto Molina Abad, Venezuela; Dilip Nagisetty, India; Abdul Naser, Bangladesh; Tien Nam Nguyen, Vietnam; Anarose Genota Pate, Philippines; Amisha Rakeshbhai Patel, India; Aniket Rajendra Patel, India; Jyoti Rajendra Patel, India; Kirti Patel, India; Rajendra Ganpatbhai Patel, India; Rakesh Chhaganbhai Patel, India; Shinobu Pinson, Japan;

Urooj Tahir Rana, Pakistan; Peter Saveliev, Russia; Rameez Tauqir Sayyed, Pakistan; Trevor Dashi Sho Johnson, Sierra Leone; Ernesto Soriano, Mexico; Svitlana V. Veselova, Ukraine; Marilou Besin Williams, Philippines; Melat Abebe Wube, Ethiopia; Naveed Zaman, Pakistan; Yuwen Zhang Fuson, China; Ren Zhen Zheng, China; Xiao Lan Zheng, China; Xu Dan Zheng, China.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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