At NCC new citizens react to government shutdown

Click play to watch the report from Action News
October 17, 2013 3:28:39 PM PDT
Years of sacrifice, hard work and studying paid off for dozens of people today who can now call themselves American citizens.

47 people from 32 countries became brand new citizens of the United States at the National Constitution Center on Thursday.

Ella Artillio, who moved here from Israel 11 years ago, wanted to become an American specifically so she could vote - and intends to send Washington a message about the 16-day shutdown.

"I think it is embarrassing that they can't get together and do what they were elected to do," Artillio said. "It upsets me that they were getting paid this whole time to fight while other people had to stay home."

Action News spoke to several new citizens about the sharp disagreements in Washington. No one said it reduced their pride on this special day. Juan Puppo, though, says it gave new perspective of his former land in South America.

Puppo explains, "In Venezuela everything is kind of in turmoil. So I guess I'm used to that happening... I don't think government should get to the extent of where it's gotten to for it to shut down."

You may be wondering, would this event have still gone on if Congress failed to reach a deal last night. The answer is yes, the Constitution Center is run privately, and has remained open throughout. And federal judges had remained on the job. The Philadelphia Bar Association, which plans these events, says they happen rain or shine... or shutdown.

Marciel Tee is from Indonesia, saw first-hand the impact of the 2004 tsunami, and is willing to overlook the recent behavior in our nation's capital.

"America is still a great country. Whatever happened, everyone dreams to become [a citizen]."

By the way, new citizens still have to take a test to reach this point. One told me it was tough, 100 questions in length. As a result, you have to wonder if they may know their new country, better than some of us.


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