Nearly 100 become citizens in Pittsburgh ceremony as Congress haggles over immigration overhaul
Philip Titus-Glover is a newly minted U.S. citizen.
He took an oath and pledged allegiance during a ceremony last month at the U.S. District Courthouse, Downtown. Valerie Tobias, the director of the Pittsburgh field office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, encouraged him to vote. She gave him a U.S. flag and a certificate declaring him a legal citizen.
Nearly 100 new citizens joined Titus-Glover, who left Ghana in 2006, during two naturalization ceremonies on July 26. They came from 39 countries, from South America, Europe, Africa and Nepal. Some had lived in America for five, six or seven years. One lived in the United States for two decades before deciding to become a citizen. Some came for school, some for family and some for work.
Despite their differences in gender, race, age and country of origin, America's newest citizens spent years following rules and enduring a sometimes complex, frustrating and costly path to citizenship.
Today, Congress is locked in a fierce debate over immigration legislation.
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed a 1,187-page bill including provisions to bolster border security, create a 13-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11.1 million people living in America illegally and clear in 10 years the backlog of 4.4 million people waiting to enter the country legally.
The Republican-controlled House decided to address immigration issues in a piecemeal fashion, passing a series of smaller bills.
As a bitterly divided Congress debates new laws, Titus-Glover and fellow new citizens offer a poignant perspective about immigration and amnesty.
“I did everything right to get here,” said Titus-Glover, 42, of Wheeling, W.Va. “It's frustrating to see people who didn't do it right get a free ride. In doing this, we're kind of setting a precedent.”
Titus-Glover and his wife, who he met in the United States, have three children who were born here. He came to America seeking a solid education for his not-yet born children. He also found opportunity.
While working for a law firm, he stumbled across a company that refurbished and resold cellphones, laptops and other consumer electronics. Titus-Glover thought he could do it better and cheaper. He started 3R Electronics in 2008. Titus-Glover resells the electronics domestically now, but he plans to eventually expand his business to other countries, including Ghana, where consumers consider new what Americans consider old, he said.
Other new citizens see it differently.
“I don't understand why they shouldn't be given an opportunity to live here and become part of the community,” John Kagunyi, 31, of Natrona Heights said of illegal immigrants.
Kagunyi would support a path to citizenship for those with a clean background who want to contribute to society. If they want to pay taxes, let them live here, Kagunyi said. He has a friend living in the country illegally. The fear of being caught and deported is paralyzing, he said.
Kagunyi left Kenya in 2006 to see America, a country people in his homeland talked about and watched with awe on television.
“I loved it. That's why I applied for a green card,” Kagunyi said. “They say it's a land of opportunity. I wanted to be part of it.”
He became a citizen after a lengthy process he described as hard but fair.
“Eventually, you'll get it,” he said.
Kagunyi hopes to bring over his father from Kenya. The two talk often. Kagunyi called him the morning of his naturalization ceremony. He fears the process to bring his father to America could take years.
“I hope they make it much easier for us to bring families here,” he said.
Min Zhang said she hopes for changes to the immigration system.
Zhang, 46, of Butler earned her citizenship last month. She fretted about the tests Citizenship and Immigration Services requires of aspiring citizens. Her husband, Phillip Bouse, 62, said everyone should go through the same scrutiny.
“There's got to be a process that everyone has to go through,” Bouse said. “You just can't change something.”
The couple met on the Pacific island of Saipan while Bouse was stationed in Japan with the Navy. They married 10 years ago and returned to the United States eight years ago, Bouse said. Frightened of the tests, Zhang worried about the decision to become a citizen.
Stephen Irwing, 60, of Acme said making the decision to pursue citizenship is an important step in the process. He believes granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants could diminish the value of his own effort.
Irwing moved from England in 1993. After living in America for 20 years under a green card, he made the decision to seek citizenship.
“People should be proud to make that decision,” Irwing said. “It's relatively painless. It just takes time.”
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- $4M floor project at Pittsburgh International Airport to replace drab gray, clickety-clack tile
- Vending business in new hands after pot-growing operation found in Lawrenceville
- Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Monroeville plans expansion
- Pittsburgh, Allegheny County completing 911 center merger
- Feds dispute ex-PA Cyber chief’s claims of illegal attorney-client recordings
- College-bank deals inspire calls for openness from regulators
- Nonprofit intends to restore West End Village tavern
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra makes ‘great strides’ financially, audit shows
- Officers involved in shootings relay physical, emotional toll of incidents
- Festival of Hope attendees enjoy final day of worship, music, Graham
- People loved when Sophie talked like Sophie