The president of the United States spent part of his 4th of July holiday presiding over a naturalization ceremony. Twenty-five members of America’s military representing fifteen different countries swore allegiance to the United States on Friday as they became American citizens at a White House ceremony. Fifteen are active-duty service members from the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy. Two veterans, a reservist and seven spouses were also among those being administered the oath of allegiance.
The Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, delivered the oath. Mayorkas has served as Deputy Secretary since 2013. He previously held the title of Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, where he oversaw the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“They signed up to serve, to sacrifice, potentially to give their lives for the security of this country even though they weren’t yet Americans. That’s how much they love this country,” Obama said when announcing the event. “They were prepared to fight and die for an America they did not yet fully belong to. I think they’ve earned their stripes in more ways than one.”
President Obama announced earlier in the week that he would use executive action before the end of the summer to address the country’s immigration system if House Republicans failed to pass a comprehensive bill that had previously passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The president expressed concern over the thousands of immigrant children who had sought refuge in the United States after years of violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico.
“We won this country’s freedom together. We built this country together. We defended this country together,” the president said. “It makes us special. It makes us strong. It makes us Americans. That’s worth celebrating. And that’s what I want not just House Republicans, but all of us, as Americans to remember.”