On the 4th of July, I joined a wide array of leaders ranging from the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief of Staff of the Office of General Counsel to the 2010 Miss America in welcoming and congratulating our nation’s newest citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the historic George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens on our nation’s 235th birthday.
This moving and meaningful ceremony is part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Independence Day. More than 24,000 candidates will become citizens at approximately 350 ceremonies held across the country from June 27 to July 4.
At Mount Vernon, we welcomed 100 candidates---hailing from 41 countries---to United States citizenship. While this was an especially important day for these new citizens coming from every corner of the globe, it was also a special day for our nation and its future prosperity. The naturalization ceremony reaffirmed the deeper meaning of citizenship and the American dream. New citizens continue to renew and enrich the American dream as well as contribute to our cultural, spiritual and intellectual richness.
Each of the candidates has their own unique journeys. Their stories remind us that America is both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and if we are to remain true to that ideal, we must build a 21st century immigration system that reflects our traditions and meets our diverse economic and security interests.
America is a promise to the world. It’s a place that welcomes everyone. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or what faith you worship. What matters is that you believe in and embrace the ideals on which we were founded. That you believe that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and deserve our freedoms and our pursuit of happiness.
That’s the promise of this country – that anyone can write the next chapter in our history. And I am confident that our newest Americans will add important contributions to our nation’s history.