Kona man says citizenship decision ‘came naturally’


On Constitution Day, a 19-year-old Kailua-Kona man stood on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri, took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance and became a citizen of the country he moved to a decade earlier.

Gott James Borho, a Hualalai Academy graduate attending classes at University of Hawaii at Hilo and the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii, came to the United States from Thailand when his mom, “Gidget” Somjit Borho, married American and West Hawaii businessman Tom Borho.

“I’ve been living here nine years now,” Borho said. “I consider this to be my home. I just want to be a citizen and this to be my country.”

The decision to become a citizen just “came naturally,” he added. The process of becoming a citizen wasn’t too difficult, either. He said he had to study a number of civics lessons and be prepared to answer questions such as who is the president and who is Hawaii’s governor.

“I took most of that in high school,” Borho said. “I had no problem with that.”

Borho has been back to Thailand a few times since moving to the United States. He said he was born in a small town.

Because he moved to Hawaii at such young age, he said he doesn’t have a strong attachment to Thailand.

“I do miss the food there,” he said.

Borho is taking business classes with a goal of a business administration degree. He works part time in his family’s real estate business and hopes to finish his education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

He said he expects to fulfill his duty as an American to vote and encouraged other people to complete the process.

“Go for it, if you want to become a citizen,” he said.

Borho, at 19, was one of the youngest new citizens sworn in during Tuesday’s ceremony at Pearl Harbor, aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Nearly 100 people from Argentina, Belarus, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Western Samoa became U.S. citizens.

The oldest new citizen was 76. The group included four active duty military service members and two military spouses.

About 18,000 people will become citizens this week, U.S. Customs and Immigration Service officials said, in 180 ceremonies across the country.

In addition to Tuesday being Constitution Day, marking the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, it was also Citizenship Day, which has been celebrated since 1952.