New US citizens celebrate, but worries still linger for family in Afghanistan

Noor Zazai takes the oath of citizenship after seven years in Fargo.

Noor Zazai takes the oath of citizenship during a ceremony at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — Noor Zazai and his wife became United States citizens along with about 38 other new Americans from around the world during a ceremony held Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo.

"I'm very happy and very proud that finally we got our citizenship and now we can say that we are Afghan-Americans," Noor Zazai said following the ceremony.

The couple have been in Fargo about seven years.

Fargo resident Noor Zazai is proud to be a U.S. citizen after ceremonies held at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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Noor is self employed and his wife is a homemaker. The Zazais have three children, ages 1, 4 and 7. They are expecting a fourth child in January.

Before moving to the United States, the Zazais lived in Afghanistan, where Noor was employed as an interpreter for the U.S. Army.

He said he has family in Afghanistan and since Taliban rule was reestablished in the country, he said he fears for the lives of family members still there.

"Everybody knows the situation is very bad and we pray for them to one day come here and join us in America," Zazai said.

He said work is being done on setting up a process whereby people might again be able to leave Afghanistan, but it's not known when or if that will happen.

For now, he said, those believed to be in danger because of past affiliation with the American presence in the country continually move from place to place in order to remain safe.

Zazai said the swift collapse of the Afghan government following the full withdrawal of American forces from the country came as a surprise to him.

"It is a very big shock," he said, adding: "I'm not blaming anyone, it just happened."


Joy Hove, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services supervisor, takes a photo of Noor Zazai after citizenship ceremonies at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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As far as how their life is going in the U.S., Zazai said he and his family are very happy in Fargo.

"I would say it is my home country right now. Our kids are growing day by day here and we love it," he added.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Peter Welte, who presided over Wednesday's ceremony, described the diversity of the individuals who took the oath of citizenship Wednesday as "remarkable."

He said it brought to mind a phrase printed on American currency — E Pluribus Unum — which translates to: out of many, one.

"This is a special time in our history, where there is a need for unity. There is a need for us to all be of one mind and of one heart, at least with respect to the goals that we have as a nation," Welte said.

He added those goals include simply living with freedom, "where we are free to live and worship and vote and work and enjoy the fruits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

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