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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Disabled Woman Takes Landmark Oath

November 22, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Vijai Rajan, the Anaheim woman who could not become a citizen because disabilities kept her from reciting the oath of allegiance, was finally sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a private ceremony Tuesday.

Rajan, 24, has lived in the United States since she was 4 months old. She has cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Crohn's disease, and cannot say or understand the oath of allegiance, her family said.

For six years, Rajan's family--all citizens themselves--tried to win citizenship for her. Last year, they filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which had asserted that federal law did not allow it to make exceptions to the oath requirement.

Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) introduced a bill to correct that; Rajan's case was cited as the inspiration. The bill was passed by the Senate and signed by President Clinton two weeks ago.

Rajan became the first person granted citizenship under the law's provisions. The measure could help thousands of severely disabled people win citizenship, said Micheal Hill, a lobbyist for the country's Catholic bishops in Washington.

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