Nine people from seven countries became naturalized United States citizens on Friday, June 13, in Hannibal, Mo.



Nine people from seven countries became naturalized United States citizens on Friday, June 13, in Hannibal, Mo.

They took their oath of citizenship in the federal courtroom at the Federal Building, with Senior U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber of St. Louis presiding.  

Several new citizens are familiar faces to Hannibalians. Two are physicians, and one co-owns a restaurant.

Married doctors Bassem Mikhail and Buthaina Richeh, formerly of Syria, have lived in Hannibal since 2008. They were accompanied by their children, ages 17, 9 and 8; and other supporters.

Richeh is an internist and hospitalist who recently joined the Hannibal Regional Medical Group after being with Hannibal Clinic. She later explained she likes her new schedule, giving her more time with her family.

Mikhail is an interventional cardiologist with Hannibal Clinic.

Among the people supporting the doctors was Karen Hiller. She had a special reason, declaring that Dr. Mikhail had “saved the lives of my husband and my mother,” adding “both have congenital heart defects that were not found by anybody” until Dr. Mikhail saw them. At the time her husband was 56 and her mother was 75.”Now both are going great,” she said.

During the ceremony, tThe group was asked to give their names and professions. When Arif Dagin, a native of Turkey, responded, he couldn’t resist giving his local restaurant, LaBinna Bistro, a bit of publicity.

When Susana Gutierrez Lugo and Victor Amauri Alfaro Maldonado, a married couple from Mexico, were stating their professions, he reported he is an engineer, and she said, “I’m raising his kids,” for which she received a round of applause from the crowd.

The additional new citizens and native countries were: Rhondine Monique Katherina Sorrell, Jamaica; Blerta Alimi, Macedonia; Esteban Martin, Guatemala; and George James David, Egypt.

Some discover

Missouri is cold

Before the ceremony began, David explained he is a chemical engineer living in Bethel, Mo., where he now works for the University Extension. He has lived in America 10 years and got his Green Card five years ago. He has been receiving help, reporting, “I found very good people here to help me find anything I need.” He hopes to move to Dallas, because “it is too cold here (in Missouri, after coming from Egypt).”

Another who discovered Missouri is cold was Sorrell. She came from Jamaica in 2005, and said she was never cold until arriving in the United States, and she soon had pneumonia.

She lives in Jonesburg, Mo., with her husband and 2-year-old twin daughters. Her mother was in Hannibal with the family. She plans to visit Jamaica in July.

One new citizen has immediate travel plans. Alimi plans to visit her native Guatemala, leaving June 17. She was warned about getting a Passport that quickly and said she had it planned, and can get a Passport in one day in Chicago.

‘America is

country of immigrants’

Eastern District Appellate Judge Cliff Ahrens of Hannibal, the featured speaker, told the new citizens “the United States is a country of immigrants.” He said his father’s grandparents came from Germany and his mother’s parents from Sweden.

He added, “Americans cherish our rights, and with them come responsibilities,” including “staying informed about issues, serving on juries,” paying taxes and “we must respect and obey all federal, state and local laws. … Each has the responsibility to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Prior to taking their oath of citizenship, the group heard Jane Rund, assistant U.S. attorney and naturalization examiner, report each had resided in the United States the required time. Rund then said, “I move you accept them” as U.S. citizens.

After each had signed their certificate of citizenship. Judge Webber said he “extended the hand of friendship, and as a representative of the government, I congratulate each of you.”

See photo gallery for more pictures.