New U-S Citizens Vote In Their First American Election


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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 31, 2008

With KXJZ news…I’m Steve Shadley…
 
Many immigrants who’ve recently come to the United States are looking forward to participating in Tuesday’s election.
 
But, first they had to become citizens.
 
I caught up with some of the prospective voters at a swearing-in ceremony last week at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium... 
   
  “This is an exciting opportunity for me…I’ve waited twenty years for this moment…” 
 
Amjad Elias…goes by the name AJ.  He’s from Ethiopia.  AJ and his wife have lived in America for 20 years…but they’ve just now been granted citizenship.  Their 13 year-old son…Juhair was born in the United States. The family lives in Elk Grove.  AJ is looking forward to his first election… 
  
“This is a democracy…a true democracy where the government is for the people and by the people…and we have total liberty where we want to believe in the person for whom we are voting…so this is really really exciting…” 
  
(sound of national anthem—woman singing up and under script)
 
Inside the auditorium…a judge gives the oath to the new Americans. 
  
 (Memorial Auditorium swearing in up and under) 
  
And…there are speeches from members of a welcoming committee… 
 
“Thank you for bringing your rich culture to the united states…and enriching the fabric of our  society…welcome all of  you…applause” 
   
After the hour long ceremony….the new citizens gather outside the building.  They’re swarmed by election volunteers who are signing them up to vote… 
  
(Spanish speaking registrar announces to crowd they can sign up to vote with him)
 
Election workers use a variety of languages to get the immigrants to register to vote…

Santiago is from Nicaragua and just got his voter card.  He says he's supporting candidates who share his specific views on immigration... 
 
“I really hope that they allow illegal immigrants to get their driver’s licenses so they can get to work and back…that would be a big plus”
 
Another new citizen who stands a few yards away from Santiago gets my attention.   She proudly waves her new voter card in the air... and she's clutching a bouquet of red roses... 

(I ask…”your name please?”  She responds:  Anna Slevika.  ME:  “Where are you from?”  She reponds: “Mexico”  I ask are you excited about voting in the election?  She responds:  “I am…very excited.”  I ask “What issues are important to you as a new immigrant…a new citizen to the United States”…  She responds:  “the health care…and how much they’re going to tax us…”
 
Sabia Fahan of Pakistan...is waiting patiently to get her registration form.  She's 25 years old and works for a bank in Stockton.  
Fahan says she plans to vote for candidates who can repair what she calls the damage done by President Bush... 
  
“Well, the war…the economy…which is going down the drain.  Those are the most important issues to me personally.”  I ask…”What are they saying about the war that pushes your buttons…the candidates…the presidential candidates?”  she reponds: “Well, if they continue it…it’s going to cost a lot of money…and we are still going to be in the drain.  I just want it to be overwith…”
 
The war and economy are big issues with many of the immigrants I spoke with.    

Ahmad Assizzie is from Afghanistan and lives with his American wife in Vacaville. He's been waiting 25 years to become a U-S citizen.  Assizzie says there’s one issue everyone should be concerned about… 

 "Peace in the world…that’s the number one thing…”
 
Citizenship ceremonies for immigrants are held once a month at Sacramento’s Memorial auditorium.  But, this one was particularly busy because a lot of people wanted to become citizens in time to vote in Tuesday’s election.