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She moved to Columbus after falling in love with a soldier. Now she’s an American citizen

Nearly 50 people from 23 different countries become U.S. Citizens in Columbus

Nearly 50 people from 23 different countries became U.S. Citizens Tuesday morning during a naturalization ceremony at the United States District Courthouse in Columbus, Georgia.
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Nearly 50 people from 23 different countries became U.S. Citizens Tuesday morning during a naturalization ceremony at the United States District Courthouse in Columbus, Georgia.

Jasmina Fitchett met the love of her life at her parents’ restaurant in Italy.

His name is Lucas, and he was an Army man who came into the place often. Over the past several years, she’s followed him to new assignments in Germany and then to the United States before making their way to Columbus.

The couple has been married for seven years, and they have three children. Now, at 27, the Italian-born woman is a new U.S. citizen.

Fitchett was one of 49 people from 23 different countries who became citizens following a naturalization ceremony at the United States District Courthouse in Columbus Tuesday morning.

Family members of those being naturalized and onlookers who had never seen immigrants make the transition to citizens filled the courtroom. Some children babbled and made loud noises. Newly minted citizens posed for pictures with their naturalization certificates as the occasional joyous laugh rang out.

After everything was over, snacks were served, and the new citizens were given the opportunity to register to vote through the Muscogee County Elections and Registration office.

“We are a welcoming country. How could a nation largely descended from immigrants not be,” said Judge Clay D. Land as he addressed the crowd after the citizens took their oath. “Today, America is more than just your home. It is now your country. And it is just as much your country as it is the country of those who can trace their ancestry back to our founding fathers. We have no second class citizens in the United States of America. And when you hear others suggesting otherwise, know that they have the right to think and talk that way but they are wrong.”

Fitchett, holding her 1-year-old daughter Lillyan against her hip, said it was an exciting day. The entire process to become a citizen took her about seven months. It was sped up because she is a military spouse, and her husband is set to deploy to Africa in September, she said.

She’s excited about the benefits that come with citizenship. One of the first things she is going to do is register to vote. It brings her comfort, too. Her children are Americans, and she is now able to work in a federal office, which is important to her because she is studying legal studies, she said.

Fitchett said it’s important for Americans to realize the country’s origins and that the process to become a citizen requires some work.

“It is a very important day,” Fitchett said. “Citizens need to acknowledge the (United States) was built by immigrants. ...There’s still a lot of hate out there, unfortunately, for immigrants no matter if they’re legal or illegal. ...A lot of people don’t see the process we have to go through. ...It takes time. It takes money. And it takes work.”

Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
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