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New citizens swear oath to country

15 complete naturalization process in Mahoning County

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Faisal Alwekhyan, left, of Poland, stands with friend Mo Yemeni of Youngstown in the rotunda of the Mahoning County Courthouse on Thursday after Alwekhyan became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony.

YOUNGSTOWN — Fifteen people raised their right hands and swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, making them U.S. citizens.

They declared they “absolutely and entirely renounce” their allegiance to any other country where they previously were a citizen and they will “defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

They also pledged to “bear arms on behalf of of the United States when required by law” and “perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.”

At the oath’s conclusion, many of their family and friends in attendance burst into applause.

The new citizens — from Cuba, Russia, the Philippines, Australia, Chile, Jordan, Vietnam, India, Slovenia, Romania and Germany — then recited the Pledge of Allegiance, along with everyone in the courtroom, in a sign of unity with their new fellow citizens.

“You are free citizens of this country now,” Judge Maureen Sweeney told them. “I wish you great days, prosperous times and a happy holiday season coming up.”

Two men from Jordan were among those who became new citizens Thursday — Faisal Alwekhyan and Waleed Almaraihah.

“I want to become a good part of the community,” said Alwekhyan, who has lived in Poland since 2016. Almaraihah has lived in Youngstown seven years.

Each new citizen received a small American flag and was told personnel from the Mahoning County Board of Elections were on hand in the courthouse rotunda to assist them with registering to vote.

Also among the new citizens are Alexander Steeb, originally from Germany, and his wife, Meta Steeb, originally from Slovenia. With them was their son, Luka, 9, who was born in Pittsburgh.

The couple has lived in Mahoning County for about a decade, but their earlier years had an international flavor.

The couple met in China, where they were both working, Alexander said.

They recently moved from southern Mahoning County community of Poland to the North Side of Youngstown, he said, because they are excited about the revitalization of the city’s downtown.

He finds the history of the city interesting — from its times of economic boom times to the downturn and now resurgence. “It’s a great thing,” he said.

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