HomeFilipino AmericanVP Pence congratulates new Fil Am citizen. Former deportee celebrates citizenship.

VP Pence congratulates new Fil Am citizen. Former deportee celebrates citizenship.

Photo courtesy Orlando Medrano

Vice President Mike Pence joined 16 new citizens from more than a dozen countries for a swearing in ceremony Thursday, reports the Asian Journal. This just a week after the first Cambodian deportee to return to the United States became a new citizen himself.

“When I raised my right hand (at the oath ceremony), I said to myself, ‘Damn, this couldn’t be real,’” Phorn Tem said to the Sacramento Bee. “I thought I was dreaming at first.”

Tem was born in a Thailand Refugee Camp after his parents escaped the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. Authorities deported him in 2017 years after pleading guilty for possession of marijuana.

Attorneys with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus succeeded in getting his deportation overturned after a judge agreed authorities failed to inform him of the possible consequences of his guilty plea.

“I feel excited,” Tem said. “I get to vote for the first time, I get to go to jury duty. Even though it’s boring, I want to experience that because that’s part of being a citizen.”

During a naturalization ceremony in Washington. D.C., 16 people from 12 countries became new citizens as Vice President Pence watched.

“I want to commend you for having the courage to reach for your dreams and to make the sacrifices necessary to become part of the greatest nation in the history of the world,” Pence said. “Your stories are truly inspiring.”

Among those sworn in was Orlando Medrano, the father of sons in the US Army.

“I’m still overwhelmed by the experience I had today [as] it is really more than I dreamed and asked for. I [had] no idea that I [would] take my oath at the White House with the presence of Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and others,” Medrano told the Asian Journal.

He is the father of four children and currently holds two jobs. He cleans planes for Delta Airlines and also has a job as a painter with Marriott Hotels.

Pence singled out Medrano for a special mention during his speech.

“His family’s already making contributions to this country. One of his sons, I’m told, serves as an Army medic at Fort Carson in Colorado. Another of his sons is a cargo specialist in the Army Reserve. What a great family,” Pence aid. “Today, Orlando Medrano is an American and a proud father, to say the least.”

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