Skip to comments.New citizens, new voters (New 'Rats)
Posted on 09/19/2008 2:33:38 PM PDT by buccaneer81
New citizens, new voters Friday, September 19, 2008 By Sherri Williams THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Carmen Ladman used to plan her trips home to El Salvador around her country's presidential elections so she could vote. After becoming a U.S. citizen yesterday, she won't have to travel so far to cast her ballot this year. She will vote in America for the first time.
"How important this election is for this country made me apply (for citizenship) to vote," said Ladman, 52, who has lived in the United States 12 years. "I'm a believer that we all have to do something.
"If I don't participate in the process, I don't have the right to say this is right or this is wrong."
Ladman, of Worthington, was among 300 people who became citizens yesterday at a ceremony at Veterans Memorial. Many of the new Americans, ranging in age from 18 to 79 and hailing from 73 countries, completed voter-registration forms afterward.
Completing the long citizenship process and living in a politically important state will drive most of these new citizens to the polls, said Paul Beck, professor of political science at Ohio State University.
"New citizens really take their rights as citizens seriously," Beck said. "You can expect these people to show up at the polls in November."
More than 2,900 people have been naturalized in Columbus since January. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson, one of three judges at the ceremony, told the new citizens: "Exercise your right to vote and engage others. Many lives have been lost fighting to preserve this precious right of citizenship."
Ladman, a Spanish-language instructor at the Columbus School for Girls for 11 years, discusses immigration issues in her classes. Yesterday, 46 of her students witnessed a civics lesson in action when they watched her take the citizenship oath.
Brothers Manuel and Rafael Rizo, who were born in Mexico and moved to this country in 1997, sat next to each other and took the citizenship oath together.
Rafael Rizo, 21, said he's glad he is now officially an American so he can vote to improve conditions for immigrants. "I'm looking at the candidates and who is for freedom, jobs and who is doing more stuff for immigrants," said Rizo of Delaware.
Meaza Awoke, a native of Ethiopia who lives in Westerville, registered to vote yesterday and plans to cast a ballot for the first time in her life in November.
Awoke, 44, co-owner of the Blue Nile restaurant with her husband, Mequanent Berihun, said that in the 16 years she has lived in the United States she has seen the economy and employment decline and affect her business.
"Small businesses are dying because the economy is bad," said Awoke, who hopes the next president will create jobs. "People aren't eating out. Our customers have been laid off."
Becoming a citizen is important to Yelena Chaykovskaya, 61, a native of Uzbekistan, because she feels at home here. In her native country, poverty and violence made life difficult.
But now she is concerned about the challenges facing her new nation, especially war. Chaykovskaya, who lives in Alexandria in Licking County, plans to vote to address the country's needs.
"Right now America has very big problems," she said.
La Raza smiles.
I agree. Letting every angry third world peasant in and giving them citizenship is a BIG problem.
One of the best things about the ceremony was when the Judge, from the Circuit Court of Eastern Missouri, explained to the inductees just what they were going to do. She told them that they would first take an oath. And she explained exactly what the oath was and what it meant. When she finished explaining she said, "If any of you should have a problem swearing this oath to The United States, please leave now." You could have heard a pin drop!
Due to the size of the inductee class, the ceremony was held in the new multi-use building on the campus of St. Louis University. There were a lot of people sitting in the stands and when the new Americans finished taking the oath they received a standing ovation from everyone. There were a bunch of kids from local high schools who were in attendance to experience the induction and they were hooting and hollering. It was really neat.
An actual analysis of this, cross-tabbed for age, country of origin, etc. My gut feeling agrees with yours, but I would actually love to see a study.