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122 immigrants, refugees become citizens of 'a land of dreams'

122 immigrants, refugees become citizens of 'a land of dreams'

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — When Raghad Safah’s family was resettled in Utah in 2009, they had little more than the clothes on their back.

But in a very short time, the Iraqi family starting working toward their American dream.

Safah started her education at Salt Lake Community College and required help filling out her applications. She now has a master’s degree, teaches at the University of Utah and is student teaching at West High School.

Her husband, Khalid Suteeh, owns and operates his own business, a gas station that supports the couple and their four children.

On Friday afternoon they became U.S. citizens in an emotional ceremony at the U.S. District Courthouse.

The couple said they were experiencing a mix of emotions, pride in their accomplishments and gratitude for the many opportunities the United States has to offer.

“I believe this country is truly the land of dreams,” Safah said.

More than 120 people from 43 countries were sworn in as new American citizens in two ceremonies Friday. Some were refugees who had been resettled in Utah after they were forced to leave their home countries. Others were legal immigrants, some of whom took the citizenship test as soon as they possibly could. One man from Sweden, however, said it took him 45 years to decide whether to seek American citizenship.

Elia Mazzitelli hugs her daughter after being one of 122 immigrants, from 43 countries, to take the oath of allegiance and become U.S. citizens at the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
Elia Mazzitelli hugs her daughter after being one of 122 immigrants, from 43 countries, to take the oath of allegiance and become U.S. citizens at the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Many people addressed the crowd, expressing their pride and love for their parents, spouses or friends who had become citizens.

Julia Hernandez said her mother, Rosio Arias, had worked very hard to master English and to study for her citizenship test.

“We’re so proud of you. You studied so hard. You earned all of this,” she said.

Daniel Useche, a pharmacist at Primary Children’s Hospital, said he was grateful for the opportunity to attend pharmacy school in the United States, which wasn’t possible in Venezuela.

“It’s been a long journey, but I’m so grateful to be a U.S. citizen today,” Useche said.

“My dreams have already come true.”

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