New Americans were sworn in Friday during a naturalization ceremony at Portland City Hall. Among them was a man who fled threats of violence in Iraq five years ago.

Joined by his family for the occasion, Mohammed Al Mashakeel said, “To become a U.S. citizen is to have the golden ticket in your hands.”

Mohammed Al Mashakeel, originally from Iraq, takes the oath during a naturalization ceremony Friday for five new American citizens at Portland City Hall. In Iraq, Al Mashakeel was a welder, making doors and windows. He and his family had to leave after receiving threats from various groups because of his brother’s job as a public information officer for United Nations in Baghdad. On June 11, 2012, he arrived with his family in New York. Staff photos by Brianna Soukup

Alfreda Awugah, 2, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during Friday’s ceremony, at which her mother, Gloria Awugah, became a U.S. citizen. Awugah is originally from Ghana and has been in the U.S. for three years.

Mohammed Al Mashakeel, center, helps lead the Pledge of Allegiance after becoming a U.S. citizen in a naturalization ceremony Friday at Portland City Hall. Al Mashakeel brought his brother Adnan Khudhair, at left, and his children, at right, Lujain, 3, Zainab, 8, and Hussein, 12, along with other family members.

Mulhah Albadri twirls an American flag around her fingers as she sits in the nearly empty Portland City Council chamber Friday after watching her son Mohammed Al Mashakeel become a U.S. citizen. Albadri joined her son in the U.S. three years ago after fleeing Iraq with her other two children.

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