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More than 100 people in Arizona become US citizens on 9/11

(Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — More than 100 people in Arizona became U.S. citizens on Tuesday, as the country remembered those who lost their lives during the 9/11 terror attacks.

“I’m very happy to be a citizen today,” said Mounia Mnouer, who’s originally from Morocco. “It’s a bittersweet moment because it’s also September 11, and it’s a dark day in U.S. history, unfortunately.”

She was among the 105 people who took the oath of citizenship during a ceremony in Avondale on Tuesday. They’re originally from 32 different countries, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and India. Close friends and family members surrounded them during the one-hour ceremony.

Mnouer first came to the U.S. in 2010 and is a professor at Northern Arizona University. Joining her at the ceremony were her husband, who petitioned for her to become a U.S. citizen, and his parents.

She said her journey to get to this point has been expensive and time-consuming.

“Since I came to this country, it’s been eight years of paperwork and getting stuff ready,” she said. “So I’m very happy today that I no longer have to submit anything to the USCIS.”

Keyur Halari, who also became a U.S. citizen at the Tuesday ceremony, said the process for him was also “extremely long.”

“I started this journey almost 13 years back when I started as an H1-B visa candidate,” he said. “It was long it, but I understand what it takes. There are a lot of steps involved.”

After the ceremony, Halari celebrated with his wife, who became a U.S. citizen last year, and their U.S.-born daughters.

He came to the U.S. from India almost 16 years ago to seek higher education. After getting a master’s degree in Philadelphia, he moved to Phoenix to take an engineering job at Intel.

Both Mnouer and Halari said one of the first things they plan to do as U.S. citizens is register and vote in the November elections.

“I definitely want to exercise my right for voting and provide my voice to the democracy that this country is all about,” Halari said.

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