By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (Aug. 22, 2012) — Xai Xiong, a 102-year-old East St. Paul resident, is now oldest-newest U.S. Citizen in Minnesota.
Xiong is a Hmong refugee who came to the United States in 1986. She has eight children and many more grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Back Laos she was a mid-wife. Here she continues to make a difference, according to her son, Tou Vue. He said many women who are having difficulty getting pregnant come see her and she helps them.
A cousin had been trying to get pregnant for nearly 15 years before she went to see Xai, who visited with her and provided her some traditional Hmong remedies. This cousin is now the proud mother of eight children, said Vue.
Many other family members were here to accompany Xai for this monumental day. She joined 107 others from across the world at the Landmark Center to be sworn in as United States citizens.
Xai mentioned that she takes joy in knowing that now the United States also belongs to her. She stated what she most enjoys about the United States is that there is freedom and the opportunity everyone to be happy.
United Circuit Court Justice Susan R. Nelson presided over the event. The 108 new citizens came to the United States from 42 countries: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Laos, Liberia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Romania, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Minnesota had 11,044 people become naturalized citizens.
In 2011, the top nine countries from where people came to became US citizens in Minnesota were: Somalia (2,807), Ethiopia (799) Laos (955), Liberia (533), Mexico (461) Thailand (370), India (420), Vietnam (361), China (281). Nationally, the top 5 countries were: Mexico, India, Philippines, China and Colombia.
The League of Women Voters was also present to help the new citizens complete voter registration cards, strongly encouraging them to study up on the issues and candidates and be an active participant in the democratic process. Those seeking additional information on becoming a US citizen should visit online at www.uscis.gov.