A celebration of citizenship, country and companyPublished 6:59pm Sunday, May 2, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN – It’s been a long wait for Stephen Mungai.
But on Wednesday afternoon he was beaming from ear to ear.
His co-workers at Berrien Metal Products in Buchanan threw him a party for receiving citizenship last week.
“I’ve been waiting 12 years for this,” Mungai said. “I’m just happy to be an American citizen. I’m very happy and excited.”
Last week he went to Grand Rapids and joined about 50 others in taking the oath of citizenship.
Immigrants with a green card are required to live in the United States as a legal resident for five years before applying for citizenship.
Mungai came with his wife, Joyce, to Buchanan from Nairobi, Kenya in 1998. They settled in the city, had a son and haven’t been back to Kenya since. Mungai has a steady job as a machine operator and truck driver for Berrien Metal Products.
Mungai may not speak perfect English yet, but he probably knows just as much or more about the U.S. Constitution than the average American citizen.
“Two weeks ago I went to Detroit to take the test,” Mungai said. “They ask you about the Constitution, presidents and the Founding Fathers of this country.”
The two-hour test “was not easy,” according to Mungai but well worth the effort.
“I came her to get the experience of a good job and the American dream,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to be a citizen right at the beginning.”
Mungai says he appreciates the freedom of America and his co-workers and friends.
“They treat me like a brother,” he said.
Larry Barrett, the owner of Berrien Metal Products, presented Mungai with an American flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. In a time when immigration is a hot button issue, Barrett is happy Mungai followed the law.
“I’m very proud that Stephen has done this correctly,” Barrett said. “Stephen is the perfect example of how to do it right. I wish legal immigration was more accesible to those who want it.”