Joy of new citizenship for Russian, Iranian immigrants overshadows tense international relations

Their native countries and their adopted homeland might be at odds, but that didn’t matter in the crowded federal courtroom Thursday morning.

Fereshteh Shakibai from Iran was at a naturalization ceremony on behalf of her elderly father, Nasrollah Shakibaei. He was one of 75 people granted U.S. citizenship in the U.S. District Court off Adams Street. Petitioners bowed their heads in prayer before Judge Charles A. Stampelos led them in swearing allegiance to their new country.

It was a long time coming for many: the college student born in London but raised here; the young beaming mother with a newborn and husband waiting for her in the back of the courtroom; the Egyptian immigrant who has now fulfilled his two dreams of becoming a citizen and becoming a pharmacist.

“We are what makes America great,” said Sergio Adrian Carlos Tamez, a 19-year-old originally from Mexico who’s been here almost all of his life, “and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” His words were met with echoing cheers from the dozens of new citizens.

Third time’s the charm for Fereshteh’s 87-year-old father, who applied for citizenship twice before during his 15 years living in the States on a Green Card, his daughter said.

“He was very excited,” said Fereshteh, a citizen herself, who first came to the United States in 1978 as an ambitious 25-year-old on a student visa studying electrical engineering. It was right before the Iranian Revolution and she was trying to pursue her education amid the hostage crisis — it wasn’t easy being Iranian in the States, Fereshteh remembers.

Nasrollah is relieved. As a citizen, he can now travel more easily and visit his kids in Canada and family in Iran.

Nasrollah loves Tallahassee, its majestic trees and greenery, its weather. “It’s a good town,” he says in his brief English. Fereshteh moved here 31 years ago, then brought over her parents who were growing old — “I wanted them to be safe,” she said. The family has run businesses in the…

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