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New U.S. Citizens Express Hope, Uncertainty After Trump Victory

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Reda Almulhem, from Syria, shows off his patriotic socks next to Judge Paul Warner following a naturalization ceremony at the Salt Lake U.S. District Courthouse on Nov. 9.

About 100 new U.S. citizens attended a naturalization ceremony at the Salt Lake District Courthouse on Wednesday. As they celebrated their new status with friends and families, some are uncertain of what a Trump presidency will mean for them.

A group of 33 citizens from countries all over the world placed their hands over their hearts as they recited the oath of allegiance.
It was was one of three ceremonies held Wednesday to welcome new U.S. citizens to the country and the state of Utah.


For some, like RedaAlmulhem from Syria, the event came as a huge sense of relief after the election of Donald Trump, who has pledged to enact stricter laws on immigration, including a ban on Muslims.


“I’m disappointed definitely," he says. "It was shocking. I don’t know, nobody was expecting it.”


He says he feels like he dodged a bullet gaining citizenship before his presidency, but still feels proud to call America home.


“I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, like he might change once he handles it and realizes that ‘Oh, I cannot say crazy things anymore,’ or ‘Okay, I’m a president now, I have to act like one,’” he says.


FanFan Charles from Haiti says he wishes he could’ve voted in the election, but doesn’t feel nervous about a Trump presidency.


“I know whoever becomes the president, I’m going to support them,” he says. “Because I can do what I know is right to do as U.S. citizen — to do my duty and make America better.”


Valeria Soares, from Brazil, was also surprised by the outcome, but says everything happens for a reason.


“Nothing changes,” she says. “I still have dreams, I still have things that I want to fight for. Whatever I can do to make this country better, I will do it.”


All three of them, now newly minted citizens, said they couldn’t wait to cast their first vote in the next presidential election, a mere 1,455 days away.  


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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