President Obama marked the Independence Day holiday with a naturalization ceremony for immigrants who are serving in the United States military. “This is one of my favorite things to do,” the president told the group, which included immigrants from Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, Russia, and the Philippines, among others. “It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”
“As members of our military, you raised your hand and took an oath of service,” Obama continued. “It is an honor for me to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. Today, you raised your hand and have taken an oath of citizenship. And I could not be prouder to be among the first to greet you as ‘my fellow Americans.’”
But Obama did more than just welcome members of the military to American citizenship. The naturalization ceremony took a political turn when the president defended his controversial decision to unilaterally enact some provisions of the DREAM Act — which would put illegal immigrants who came to this country at a young age on a path to citizenship, but which has failed to win passage in Congress — and also to renew his call for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We’re still perfecting our union, still extending the promise of America,” Obama told the group. “That’s why, as another step forward, we’re lifting the shadow of deportation from serving — from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children. It’s why we still need a DREAM Act — to keep talented young people who want to contribute to our society and serve our country. It’s why we need — why America’s success demands — comprehensive immigration reform.”