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US welcomes 966 new citizens

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(KWMU photo)
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New American citizen Denise Dechermont, a native of Great Britain, rises as the American flag enters Chaifetz Arena.

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – US immigration officials transformed Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University into a courtroom Friday to welcome 966 new American citizens

The ceremony was the largest ever held in St. Louis, and one of 177 ceremonies the Citizenship and Immigration Service held over this last week to honor Constitution Week.

More than 15 percent of the immigrants were from Bosnia, including Nadim Ramic. Ramic's first order of business after receiving his naturalization certificate was finding a representative of the League of Women Voters and registering to vote in November.

"It's just one of our obligations as citizens now to do and to be part of the political process because as is now many people around the world are not free to choose who leads them and who makes decisions on their behalf," Ramic said.

He's also now licensed to practice law in Missouri. The SLU law school grad found out on Tuesday he passed the state bar exam.

Denise Dechermont fell in love with and married a Tennessee boy 15 years ago. The native of Great Britain has cancer - and decided to become an American citizen to be able to die as an American citizen. "I just think I've lived here long enough, and this is my home, and I should make it my home," she said.

Former St. Louis Blues player and current broadcaster Kelly Chase also took his citizenship oath Friday as well.

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