Newest U.S. citizens sworn in at Blair courthouse

Janyl Osmonalieva Julian of Martinsburg (right), a native of Kyrgyzstan, and Jamie Jammel Affour of Hollidaysburg, a native of Syria, were sworn in as U.S. citizens during a ceremony Wednesday at the Blair County Courthouse. Mirror photo by Kay Stephens

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Janyl Osmonalieva Julian of Martinsburg said Wednesday that she was glad to become a U.S. citizen.

“I feel fully like it’s my home now,” Julian said, smiling as she clutched her certificate of citizenship. “This was very important to me.”

Julian, a native of Kyrgyzstan, and Jamie Jammel Affour, a native of Syria, took their oaths of citizenship at the Blair County Courthouse during a patriotic ceremony hosted by Senior Judge Jolene G. Kopriva and judges Timothy M. Sullivan, Wade A. Kagarise and Jackie A. Bernard.

Sullivan, who administered the oaths, told the new citizens that the event is a reminder for others to be appreciative of their citizenship.

Kopriva referenced the event’s excitement and timing so close to the Fourth of July.

“In the world today, we need positive things,” she said.

Afford, 19, said he and his family arrived in the United States in February 2017 and settled in Hollidaysburg.

The family came as immigrants, sponsored by Affour’s uncle, Dr. Ziad Khoury, an Altoona cardiologist who told the Altoona Mirror in 2017 about his longtime pursuit to bring his family to the United States.

Affour said Wednesday that his parents became U.S. citizens earlier this year by taking oaths administered at the U.S. immigration office in Pittsburgh. He said his oath was scheduled in Blair County, which also authorized his name change to Jamie from Jamil.

“It’s a great feeling,” Afford said of his newly bestowed title of citizen.

Julian, who currently works at the Cove Shoe Factory where she sews, also welcomed her new title of U.S. citizen.

“I can very proudly say this country is my home now,” Julian said. “Before when I was asked if I was a citizen, I could only say, ‘I will be.’ So today is really special.”

As part of the ceremony, Prothonotary Robin Patton advised the judges that both applicants for citizenship were deemed eligible by the U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration. Eligibility requirements can include an English language test of reading, writing and speaking skills along with a civics test of U.S. history and government.

To welcome the new citizens, the Hollidaysburg Area Women’s Club provided gifts, including a small American flag, and refreshments.

Other participants included tipstaff David Zeak and vocalist Bob Hench who works in the prothonotary’s office.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today