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Thirty new citizens sworn in, urged to do civic duty

Born elsewhere around the globe, 30 people exchanged their green cards for naturalization certificates Monday in Buffalo, signifying U.S. citizenship.

Representing 16 countries, from Bhutan to Yemen, they stood, raised their right hands and spoke as a group in taking the oath of allegiance.

“We’re all immigrants,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio said, noting his Polish and Italian heritage.

The judicial ceremony typically is held in U.S. District Court, but Monday’s occurred in the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site on Delaware Avenue. It’s the same place where, on Sept. 14, 1901, Roosevelt was sworn in as this country’s 26th president, after William McKinley died from an assassin’s bullet.

To mark that solemn occasion, there was a brief re-enactment of Roosevelt’s inauguration. “This is a very meaningful day for us, as well as for you,” said Stanton H. Hudson Jr., executive director of the Historic Site.

Their naturalization certificates were among paperwork carried away from the ceremony by each new citizen.

There also was information about obtaining U.S. passports and registering to vote.

Sita Mishra already is seeking another document: a college diploma.

Born in Bhutan, the 24-year-old woman grew up in Nepal. In 2009, nine members of her family emigrated to Hartford, Conn., where she began learning English.

A better education and life were the motivating factors for the family’s move, she explained. “In my country, we never spoke English,” said Mishra, who grew up speaking Nepalese.

While her mother and seven siblings continued farther west, to Akron, Ohio, Mishra came to Buffalo, where she has friends. She’s attending Erie Community College, with plans to become a licensed practical nurse.

Though she occasionally travels to Ohio to visit her family, Mishra plans to remain in Buffalo. “I love it here,” she said.

The new citizens were encouraged to engage in civic activities, particularly voting and jury duty.

“When you sit on a jury and vote, that is the decision of the government,” Foschio said. “That’s really extraordinary.”