A USRESIST NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME
BY LINDA F. HERSEY
Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative report series in which we interview ordinary American on the values they believe their country stands for, and what their country needs to do to live up to those values.
# 4 Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen
“Safety, equal opportunity for women and the quality of life in the United States mean a lot to me.”
By Linda F. Hersey
Nigerian-born, mother of six grown children, Celine Suala emigrated to the United States in 2012, landed a job as a private security guard, and learned to speak English fluently, in addition to her native Swahili.
At 65, she is not about to slow down either.
In February 2021, Suala will formally embrace a new identity and complete a personal journey when she takes the official oath to become an American citizen, pledging to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the United States of America.
In reciting the 140-word pledge, she will join millions of people who have become naturalized U.S. citizens. In the last decade, more than eight million people became U.S. citizens, with California having the largest foreign-born population, at 27 percent.
For Suala, who has been working in California as a lawful permanent resident, the journey has been highly individual and filled with emotional significance. and a belief in the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” according to the Citizen Resource Center, run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the Department of Homeland Security.
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a personal quest, an opportunity to achieve a better life. More than anything, she enjoys the freedoms, both personal and economic, that living in a vital and dynamic democracy provides its citizens.
“Citizenship is a unique bond that unites people around civic ideals
Forging a New Life in a New Country
At 5’2” tall, and with a round cheerful face, Suala does not seem to pose a threat to anyone, even when she is proudly wearing her security guard uniform.
While she plans to maintain dual citizenship – keeping her birthright citizenship in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation – Suala said she feels more aligned with and connected to the United States than her birth country.
More than 250,000 naturalized citizens in the U.S. are from Nigeria. The Pew Research Center reported that a 2018 survey showed that up to 45 percent of Nigerian adults have considered moving from the West African nation to a different country, because of political strife and economic hardship. It was the highest share of any country surveyed.
Suala said it has been a worthwhile experience forging a new life in a brand-new country. With some college education, she quickly learned to speak English fluently in the U.S., as she knew the language from her native Nigeria. Her large extended family remains in Africa, but she helps out by sending some of her earnings to assist her adult children, raising families of their own.
At 65, Suala says that having a career as a woman on equal footing with men, feeling secure and safe in her California community, and enjoying the many benefits of a free society transformed her life.
“I like having the opportunities here that are not [available] to everyone in Nigeria,” she said. “Safety, equal opportunity for women and the quality of life in the United States mean a lot to me.”
U.S. Citizenship Resource Center is a government-run website that provides helpful news, information and resources, including studying material for people seeking citizenship in the U.S.
American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by working toward a more fair and just immigration system.
A World Without Borders engages in open dialog and public advocacy for immigration issues.