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    Sunday, October 20, 2019-8:17:41A.M.






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Former ‘stateless’ individual among 11 new US citizens

RONWALDO Supnet Pascua, who was born on Aug. 5, 1977 on Tinian was among the 11 individuals sworn in as U.S. citizens on Thursday at the federal courthouse.

Pascua’s parents, who are from the Philippines, moved to Tinian in 1968. But his pathway to U.S. citizenship was only made possible by a petition filed by his U.S. citizen wife.

“I was ‘stateless,’ but I’m relieved that it’s finally over,” he said.

“Stateless” individuals were those born in the Northern Marianas to non-Trust Territory citizen parents prior to 1978. Legally, they were considered citizens of their parents’ native countries, but they sought CNMI resident status or U.S. citizenship.

Pascua is a Tinian public health inspector. His father is a government retiree while his mother is self-employed.

Pascua said he has seven siblings, all whom are U.S. citizens because they were born in the CNMI after 1978.

But local CNMI residents became U.S. citizens only on Nov. 4, 1986 so individuals born to non-U.S. parents in the Commonwealth from Jan. 9, 1978 to Nov. 4, 1986 were not considered U.S. citizens.

In 2002, two of them sued the federal government for rejecting their U.S. passport applications. The district court dismissed their claim, but they appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In 2004, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the district court, and ordered the reversal of its earlier ruling. The U.S. government decided not to appeal the decision of the Ninth Circuit.

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Congratulations! Eleven new U.S. citizens pose with District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona, Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy, and CNMI Women’s Association president Rose Ada-Hocog in the federal courtroom, Thursday.  Photo by Bryan Manabat

Besides Pascua, the 10 other individuals who were granted U.S. citizenship on Thursday were Huaping Shan Bacon, Lili Duan, Jose Guevarra Jimenez Jr., Ma. Viveth Bartolome Jimenez, Isha Adhikari King, Aludia Ramirez Lamorena, Jimmy Camaya Manalang, Ruthzel Libuna Perez, Romeo Francisco Villanueva, and Salaneta Wessel.

Grace Cassagnol, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer, made the motion in federal court to accept the new citizens.

Rose Ada-Hocog, CNMI Women’s Association president, was the guest speaker.

“Each of you have steered your ship in…the direction of Life, Liberty, and Justice,” she said in her remarks. “Your journey leading up to this very moment have been long, and I am sure, like many, was filled with many challenges. It is not easy to leave a place you’ve known all your life and move to a foreign land to start a new life. You all have your personal reasons for leaving the place you called home. But no matter the reason, you are all united by a common thread: a deep love for your family and the desire for something better. As a woman, a mother, and a wife, I can relate to that. I will do what I need to do to ensure that my family, my children, my mother, are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually happy and content. Like you, I have led and I am continuing to lead my ship in the direction that will not only benefit me, but my loved ones as well.”

She told the new Americans that with their new status and citizenship, “you will have added responsibilities — responsibilities required of every American.”

She added, “You give citizenship a deeper meaning, because unlike those born in America and became automatic U.S. citizens, you, my friends, chose to be American citizens. Your choice added a dimension to the word ‘patriotism’ because you renounced your birth citizenship and chose to be Americans. You chose to support and defend all that is America. The duties of your new citizenship are the essence of America — you will choose your leaders and speak out against all that is not in accordance to the principles on which America was founded.”

Like all immigrants from around the world, the new U.S. citizens who “sought the American dream and chose to make America their home are the reasons behind the progress in America. As has been said, time and time again, America was built with the blood, sweat and tears of the natives and immigrants. For many years, immigrants have enriched the American dream and contributed to the cultural, spiritual, and intellectual wealth of the United States. America needs you and all that you have to offer to continue to prosper and progress.”