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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

New Americans Sworn In At Seattle Center

Against the backdrop of a giant American flag, 487 people from more than 80 countries became US citizens during a special 4th of July ceremony yesterday at Seattle Center.

Among them was Seattle resident Star Rush, 45, whose family came here from Vietnam in 1972 seeking refuge from the war.Rush’s father was an American serviceman from Seattle and her mother is from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, formerly known as Saigon.  

“Growing up and into adulthood, I just always felt that my national identity was my last connecting string to my place of birth and my originating culture,” Rush said, explaining her decades-long struggle with her own citizenship. “It’s not that I wanted to resist being American, but it’s also a lot of work to hang on to where you come from at the same time.”

Rush said she’s never been able to get a passport from the US or Vietnam, so once she’s a citizen she’s eager to travel back to her birth country and reconnect with family who helped raise her as a young girl.

Another factor that finally prompted Rush to become a citizen is voting, as her political ties recently became more fixed. In April, Rush married Jennifer Inslee, who’s first cousins with Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Rush says she’s been politically active throughout her adult life but now it’s more important to her to also be able to give her vote to the issues and people she supports.

Year started with KUOW: 2006