Immigrants get chance to vote just in time - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Immigrants get chance to vote just in time

The timing couldn't be better for Nelson Kambona and his family.

"It's very special that I can have my birthday in America today," says Kambona. 

Nelson and his wife, Everina are from Burundi. Ten years ago, they came to Cedar Rapids as refugees. Nelson became a U.S. citizen Monday afternoon in a ceremony at the federal court house in Davenport. His wife got her citizenship last month. Both just in time for the presidential election.

"Yes I can vote," says Kambona.  "It's very, very exciting."

"It's really important for us to be like you guys and we can vote like how you guys do," says Nelson's wife, Everina.

Becoming American citizens marks the end of a long road for Nelson and Everina. Everina was just thirteen when war sent her fleeing from her home country. With relatives dying amidst the gunfire, Everina managed to get away to a refugee camp in Tanzania.

It was really scary because I was with my parents and I was walking with them and we were like, 'If we die, that's it, nothing else'," says Everina.

Everina made it to Tanzania. It was at the refugee camp where she met and married Nelson. Together, they have four children. Everina says she thought about all the hardships during her ceremony to become a citizen. In this moment, it's worth it.

"Now we're all right," she says.  "We're good."

"We're happy in America because we have a good life here in America," says Nelson.

And for the first time, they are officially an American family.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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