A warm welcome for new citizens
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez administered the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony for 35 citizenship candidates at Philadelphia’s City Hall on Wednesday.
Among the speakers present at the ceremony were Joseph Cardinale, USCIS Philadelphia chief of staff; Rose Kendrick, USCIS Philadelphia acting district director; and Richard Negrin, managing director of the City of Philadelphia.
The citizenship candidates represented 19 countries: Albania, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania and Ukraine.
“I look at you today and I see my own family. My parents became naturalized U.S. citizens 1969, they had come here to the United States from Cuba. Before they came here, my father, my maternal grandfather and my maternal great uncle had all been detained without reason by the police on a number of occasions,” Rodriguez said. “In fact my grandfather was never able to come here because even though he had a visa he got sick and passed away.”
Rodriguez has led the Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since July of 2014, an agency with nearly 18,000 employees.
Each year USCIS welcomes approximately 680,000 citizens during naturalization ceremonies across the United States. In 2013 the top countries of origin for naturalization were Mexico, India, the Philippines, Dominican Republic and China.
“You bring people willing to work, willing to raise families, people willing to further themselves and to further our country in so many important ways,” Rodriguez said. “So I congratulate you on the choice that you had made to become a United States citizen.”
As Rodriguez congratulated each and every new citizen he also reminded them of the commitment ahead of them.
“I ask you now that you are citizens to fully exercise both the rights and the responsibilities,” he said. “Register to vote, participate in your community, add your voice and volunteer while you can. Because what you will see is that this is a place of limitless possibilities, you have the ability to make a difference.”