MR ROSENBERG: Good morning. My name is Ron Rosenberg. I’m the Washington district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It’s my honor to welcome you to this very special naturalization ceremony at the Department of State.
Taking the oath of allegiance and embracing U.S. citizenship is a remarkable act of patriotism for those who choose to make a permanent commitment to the United States. Today in taking the oath of allegiance to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, you have gained important new rights and responsibilities, along with ownership of America’s future.
I hope you are inspired and dedicated to fully exercising these rights and meet the responsibilities that accompany U.S. citizenship. I’m confident that your spirit and dedication will contribute to the continued prosperity, strength, and well-being of our nation.
It’s now my privilege to call your countries and present you for naturalization.
Candidates for naturalization, when you hear your country of current nationality called, please stand and remain standing.
Afghanistan. Dominica. Egypt. El Salvador. France. Georgia. India. Nigeria. South Korea. Sudan. And Turkey.
We’re fortunate to have USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow here today to administer the oath of allegiance. He is responsible for leading USCIS. Mr. Edlow, I present to you 11 candidates, representing 11 countries, who have applied to become U.S. citizens. Each candidate has been interviewed by an officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and, unless exempted by the law, has demonstrated the ability to read, write, and speak words in the English language. Each has demonstrated his or her knowledge and understanding of the history and the principles and form of government of the United States.
Mr. Edlow, I recommend that these candidates be administered the oath of allegiance, thereby admitting them to U.S. citizenship.
MR EDLOW: Ron, thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege and pleasure to administer the oath of allegiance to these 11 candidates for naturalization today.
(The oath is administered.)
MR EDLOW: Congratulations, you’re all now citizens of the United States. (Applause.)
Please be seated.
It is a distinct privilege for me to join you and take part in such an important milestone in your lives. This day marks the beginning of your first day as new American citizens. I know that this occasion may represent for you the end of a long road, a road that began in another country, perhaps many years or decades ago. It also represents the beginning of a new road as you embark on your journey as a new citizen. Today you celebrate all that you have accomplished to meet the requirements to be called a United States citizen. Now you will have the opportunity to add to the diverse and unique story of America. It is a story written by all of us, and it is made possible by our shared love of this country and the ideals on which it is built.
I ask that you commit yourselves to exercising and upholding your new rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens. Register to vote; get involved in your children’s schools; participate in your church, temple, or synagogue; volunteer in your local community; serve in our armed forces; operate a business; run for public office. America needs your talent, energy, and enthusiasm now more than ever in this challenging time in our nation’s history.
I’m proud to welcome you as the newest generation of American citizens. Thank you for your commitment that you’ve made to our country and to your fellow citizens. Congratulations to you all. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor to introduce the Secretary of State, the Honorable Michael R. Pompeo. Secretary Pompeo has truly demonstrated his deep commitment to this country, as evidenced by his long and distinguished history of military and public service. After graduating first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, he served this country in the U.S. Army. He would later go on to become our – a four-term congressman in the Kansas fourth district before joining the current administration as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2017 and then being sworn in as our Secretary of State on April 26th, 2018. Throughout his illustrious career, Secretary Pompeo has been a dedicated public service, working hard for the betterment of his community, his state, and all of us in this country. Please join me in welcoming Secretary Pompeo. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, good morning. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the State Department, this beautiful room. We’ve got Ben Franklin looking out at us, a completely appropriate place for us all to be on this very special day.
And for those of you who are here, I want to give a special welcome to you, those who just have taken the oath of allegiance and received a high honor. You are now American citizens. It’s an incredible privilege to join you. It’s a day I won’t forget, and I know none of you will either.
Deputy Director Edlow, District Director Rosenberg, thank you for being here, and for the work USCIS does to make American dreams come true. I’ve had the chance to see this now as Secretary of State. Please tell your teams they do wonderful, amazing work on behalf of America.
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I’m glad I finally got the chance, that everybody’s schedule worked.
Last year, I had this cool opportunity – I went back to my hometown, a place called Pacentro, Italy. You – take you a while to find it on the map. It’s the town where my great-grandparents Carlo and Adelina, emigrated from in the 20th century.
When I was walking through the town, it made me contemplate the courage that they must have summoned to uproot themselves, the comforts that they had in their home country, to cross an ocean and make America their new place.
But they did it anyway, just as immigrants have done time and time again.
I always ask: What drove them to do that?
My father told a little bit of the story. They just knew America was special. It’s really pretty simple. Its unrivaled opportunities were something that appealed to them, and our freedoms, both of which they understood and they are something that you all have come to know are rooted in our foundational documents, in the American creed.
We live according to a simple Latin phrase: E Pluribus Unum. And it’s different too, what you all have just experienced.
In other places, citizenship is linked with race, or ethnicity, or religion. But not here. In America, we unite around America herself.
You all love liberty. That’s why you came to become American citizens. We share that. It’s something we all have in common.
And it means too – and you heard in your swearing-in – it means honoring and defending our Constitution.
It means joining with people who don’t look like you or speak like you or frankly worship like you, who all think: God bless America. It’s a great place.
That’s what you all, the 11 of you who are sitting in front of me today are doing. You’ve become citizens of the most remarkable nation in the history of civilization.
And that’s no small statement. True to our history, you’ve come from all over the place to pursue the American dream.
We went through the countries – Dominica, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey.
Look, we have an accountant here today. Where’s my accountant? We got some math to do, all right. We have a health technology specialist, Uber driver, other professions.
It’s been a pleasure to read some of the stories that you all have.
I’ll just read one from – for Kemal Dogan Emmez from Turkey, a project manager. Here’s what you’re quoted as saying – you tell me if we got this right – that you came to the United States six years ago with your wife just eight months after marriage, that you wanted to start a new life in the United States where you could live in peace, wealth, and freedom. Now I’m very excited that you’re very excited to become a U.S. citizen because the United States is your home and you want to be part of it.
We welcome you and your family to America. I hope you get every bit of that. I know you’ll get the freedom. I hope you get the wealth. And I know you’ll work hard to do that.
As – today, as you reflect on this in the days ahead, you’ve now made a forever pledge of allegiance to the red, white, and blue. I have one encouragement for you today:
Chase it. You came here for a reason. You had a set of ambitions. Continue to pursue them.
Remember how generations of Americans before you sometimes struggled to achieve the ambitions they came here to pursue, but they kept after it. You all have worked, you’ve past a test that – you understand that we have as a foundational idea this pursuit of life and liberty and happiness. But none of you should expect it will ever be easy. It requires hard work, but it’s always worth striving for.
Remember too that the calling of citizen bestows on you not only that opportunity, but a responsibility as well. Take that seriously. It’s a responsibility to enlarge and beautify your golden American inheritance – an inheritance that you yourself will have the opportunity to leave to others.
I hope you’ll take enormous advantage of your new set of opportunities, your liberties. I hope you’ll vote; I hope you’ll volunteer. I hope you’ll participate in civic life and live that life out with integrity.
As John Page, one of the first governors of the state of Virginia, said, quote, “There’s nothing more desirable than to see good order, public virtue, and true morality constituting the character of the citizens of the United States.”
America’s enduring strength at home and abroad lies ultimately in the hearts of our citizens.
Don’t forget that.
In 1918, now just over a hundred years ago, during World War I, an American songwriter named Irving Berlin – everyone will come to know him – who is a Jewish immigrant from Russia, was serving in the U.S. Army, writing patriotic songs. We can all sing them. He wrote a tune that he liked very much, but decided to set it aside at the time.
Twenty years later, as the threat of World War II loomed, he dusted it off. That song quickly became famous. It’s “God Bless America.” I will read it, not sing it to you. (Laughter.) You’re welcome. (Laughter.) But it reads as this, it says:
God bless America, the land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
To my new American friends: May God bless you. May God bless each of your families as well. And may God bless this great nation, our home sweet home. It was a privilege to be with you all here today. And I will ask Director Rosenberg to come up and give some closing remarks.
Congratulations to each of you.
MR ROSENBERG: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo, for those inspiring remarks. At this time, I would like to ask the USCIS team to distribute the naturalization certificates to our new citizens.
While they are doing that, on behalf of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, I would like to take a moment to say a special thank you to Secretary Pompeo for hosting us in this beautiful setting. I know this will be a memorable day for all our new citizens.
Thank you all for joining us today, and please join me in a final round of applause for America’s newest citizens. Congratulations.