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150 boro immigrants become U.S. citizens

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“I’m so proud,” said the child, Walid Daheur, whose mother, Narima, was among 150 recent...

By Chris Fuchs

Perhaps the swearing-in ceremony for 150 immigrants at Flushing Meadows Corona Park Tuesday morning could be embodied in the simple, incisive words of a 4-year-old.

“I’m so proud,” said the child, Walid Daheur, whose mother, Narima, was among 150 recent immigrants gathered at Theater in the Park to be sworn in as American citizens.

The hourlong ceremony was the first of its kind to be held in the park, and was presided over by Justice Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, the first Greek-American appointed to the federal bench in the metropolitan area.

In fact, the president of the Queens County Bar Association, one of the sponsors of the ceremony, took pains to point out that the ceremony was all about firsts: the first woman elected as Queens borough president; the first Hispanic-American judge and first Asian-American judge appointed to Queens Criminal Court; the first time that the ceremony was held at Theater in the Park.

“And, most important of all, it is the first day of citizenship for 150 men and women who not only chose to come to our great country, but to become part of it,” said Leslie Nizin, the president of the bar association.

The ceremony began with an a cappella version of “America the Beautiful” sung by State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Polson Satterfield. Soon after, a 17-member ensemble from the New York State Courts Pipes and Drums marched on stage. For many in the audience, like Narima Daheur, 64, and her son Walid, it was the first time hearing the shrilly sounds of a bagpipe, combined with the thuds of percussion.

Before the oath of allegiance was given by Garaufis, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman made some brief remarks. “Over 40 years ago, I stood where you are sitting now because I adopted a kid from another part of the world,” she told the audience.

Daheur, too, is from another part of the world: Algeria. She came here in 1995 in search of a freedom provided by democracy, a freedom that 40,000 immigrants were given last year alone, many from Brooklyn and Queens. She and her husband have two children, a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old, who were born in the United States and are thus citizens.

“I’m really happy. It’s so wonderful,” she said, while waiting inside the theater to receive her naturalization certificate. “Yeah,” her son quickly added, trying to upstage his mother. “It is so wonderful.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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