Welcome the Mid Columbia's Newest U.S. Citizens - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Welcome the Mid Columbia's Newest U.S. Citizens

Posted: Updated:
Fernando Maldonado, a new US citizen, is about to get a congratulatory hug. Fernando Maldonado, a new US citizen, is about to get a congratulatory hug.

RICHLAND, WA - Fernando Maldonado wore a broad smile and waved an American flag moments before he became one of the newest United States citizens in the Mid Columbia during a ceremony Thursday.

"I came to this country trying to do good in my life and this is the fruit of so much work," Maldonado says.

Maldonado is a Catholic priest. He works at Lourdes Medical Center as a chaplain.

He is among 13 immigrants sworn in by United States District Court Senior Judge Edward Shea during a ceremony Thursday at the Richland federal building.

"This is a great country, but not a perfect country," Shea told the new citizens. Shea encouraged them to register to vote and get involved in the democratic process.

The immigrants come from Mexico, Philippines, Ukraine, Australia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Ghana, Ireland, Germany, Russia and Vietnam.

Judge Shea recognized the diversity of nationalities of the new citizens, and said they can be good United States Citizens while maintaining the cultures of their birthplaces.

"America is a land of immigrants," Shea told the new citizens.

After the ceremony, representatives from the Franklin County auditors Office along with the Washington League of women voters helped the new citizens register to vote. The Daughters of the American Revolution hosted a reception outside the courtroom after the ceremony.   

HD DOPPLER 6i
/