AMERICAN SAMOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Army Reserve Theater Support Group-Pacific (USAR TSG-Pacific) welcomed 47 U.S. Army Reservists as new U.S. citizens. The ceremony was held at the Veterans Memorial Hall.
David G. Gulick, USCIS District 26 Director administered the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. nationals, all born in American Samoa, and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Col. Twanda Young, Commander of the US Army Reserve Theater Support Group - Pacific, noted that good moral character is at the top of the list of qualifications for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, which aligns perfectly with the Army values of loyalty, duty, selfless service, respect, honor, integrity and personal courage. "These are the values that we soldiers hold dear," she said, "You are the best that our country has to offer. I charge you to ensure these values remain your way of life as you embark on a new chapter…"
American Samoa Lieutenant Governor Lamanu Peleti Mauga, who served in the Army Reserves himself, congratulated the new U.S. citizens. "Today is a proud moment for our local heroes for they gained the privilege of becoming United States citizens. Today they will experience a true sense of belonging and acceptance by the greatest country in the world, for they have pledged their allegiance and they have sworn to protect its values and civil liberties…"
Col. Michael Seguin made the closing remakes. Chaplain Charles Lynde gave the Invocation and Benediction. Installation Commander Captain Puletasi Wong Mageo was the MC for the special ceremony.
Honolulu Field Office Director Katy Leung and Immigration Services Officer Evangeline "Vangie" Mckee, traveled to American Samoa on October 21 to conduct the soldiers' naturalization interviews.
This was the second naturalization ceremony held in American Samoa, the first in September 2010. This effort was initiated in October 2009, when Maj. John Adams, former Army Reserve Center installation commander, discovered that some of his soldiers, previously deployed to Iraq, could not complete the naturalization process while in theater.
Under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempt from certain naturalization requirements such as residency and physical presence in the United States. Service members who have served honorably on active duty or as a member of the Army Reserve on or after Sept. 11, 2001 are eligible to file for immediate citizenship under the special wartime provisions in Section 329 of the INA.