President Celebrates Citizenship Day and the Contributions of Immigrants

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Friends,

This week, communities across the country are coming together to celebrate Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week, The President celebrated the historical influence of immigrants of all backgrounds in his 2013 Proclamation for Constitution Day, Citizenship Day and Constitution Week:

“We are a proud Nation of immigrants, home to a long line of aspiring citizens who contributed to their communities, founded businesses, or sacrificed their livelihoods so they could pass a brighter future on to their children. Each year on Citizenship Day, we welcome the newest members of the American family as they pledge allegiance to our Constitution and join us in writing the next chapter of our national story.”

This week is also National Welcoming Week, the White House honored ten leaders from across the country who are working tirelessly to foster more inclusive American communities at a Champions of Change event. Champions of Change is a White House program that praises ordinary Americans who are doing extraordinary things in their neighborhoods, and we hope that you’ll join us in commending their efforts.       

President Barack Obama, lower left, looks on as 24 active duty service members take an oath during a naturalization ceremony in the Rose Garden at the

President Barack Obama, lower left, looks on as 24 active duty service members take an oath during a naturalization ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2010. (White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The President reiterated that his Administration is deeply committed to making immigration reform a reality as soon as possible at his recent Cabinet meeting. Fiscal and international debates may be dominating the media, but as the President confirmed in his remarks, comprehensive immigration reform is “still of enormous importance to ensure that America grows.” 

The White House ushered in Hispanic Heritage Month by releasing a fact sheet outlining the benefits of commonsense immigration reform for Latino immigrant communities. Finally, during an interview this week with Telemundo, the President urged Congress to take action and encouraged the broad, diverse coalition of leaders and communities to keep advocating for reform, “Right now, everybody should be focused on making sure that that bill that’s already passed out of the Senate hits the floor of– the House of Representatives. It’s not as if the votes are not there. The votes are there.”

Let’s take this opportunity to remind ourselves that citizenship is both a privilege and a responsibility: to those who aspire to live, work and prosper in our nation, as well as future generations. Now is the time to recommit to the cause, multiply our labors and fix our broken immigration system! 

Julie Chavez Rodriguez
Associate Director
White House | Office of Public Engagement

Agency Updates

USCIS Celebrates Constitution Day and Citizenship Day with Special Naturalization Ceremonies
September 17, 2013
USCIS celebrated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787. Each year, USCIS marks this special occasion by setting aside a week to celebrate our history and reflect on what it means to be a U.S. citizen. The agency welcomed more than 18,000 new citizens during more than 180 naturalization ceremonies between September 16 and September 23 in honor of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

USCIS Announces Fiscal Year 2013 Grant Recipients on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day
September 17, 2013
USCIS announced the award of nearly $9.9 million in grants designed to prepare permanent residents for citizenship. Forty immigrant-serving organizations from 21 states will receive federal funding to support citizenship preparation services for permanent residents through September 2015.  

USCIS Share Updated Data on Requests for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
September 13, 2013
USCIS has posted updated data on requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals at www.uscis.gov/data. The data include: the cumulative number of requests received and accepted for processing, biometrics appointments scheduled, and requests under review. The data also shows the number of accepted requests from the top countries of origin and states of residence.

ICE Launches smartphone app to locate predators, rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation
September 12, 2013
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is launching a new smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public’s help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators. All tips can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ICE’s Office of Public Affairs developed the app with special agents from HSI’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and field offices across the country in order to seek the public’s help with information about child predators wanted for criminal prosecution.

Secretary Napolitano Bids DHS Farewell
September 9, 2013
On Friday, September 6, Secretary Janet Napolitano bid farewell to DHS at a ceremony in Washington, DC. Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Acting Deputy Secretary Rand Beers delivered remarks and thanked the Secretary for her service to DHS and to our Nation. Beers will now serve as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. Secretary Napolitano reflected on her time with DHS and shared some of her memories from the past four and a half years during her remarks.

New York Immigration Judge Participates in Naturalization Ceremony
September 9, 2013
Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, New York Immigration Court, delivered the keynote speech and administered the oath of allegiance to approximately 150 candidates during a naturalization ceremony at 26 Federal Plaza in New York on September 6, 2013.

USCIS Approves 10,000 U Visas for Fourth Straight Fiscal Year
September 6, 2013
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2013. This marks the fourth straight year that USCIS has reached the statutory maximum since it began issuing U visas in 2008. Each year, 10,000 U visas are available for victims of crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes. A U-visa petition requires certification of assistance from law enforcement.

Blog Highlights

Champions of Change Who Work Tirelessly to Integrate Effectively Immigrants
The White House honors ten leaders with the Welcoming America organization who help immigrants integrate civically, linguistically, and socially in to the fabric of their neighborhoods and our nation. Read each champions blog post:

Kasar S. Abdullah – Formerly with Welcoming Tennessee and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition 
Al Heggins – Human Relations Director, City of High Point, NC 
Adolfo Hernandez – Director of the Office of New Americans, City of Chicago
Dan Rearick – Executive Director, Uniting NC
Jan Reeves – Director, Idaho Office for Refugees
Fatima Said – Executive Director, Project FINE (Focus on Integrating Newcomers Through Education), MN
Christine Sauvé – Southeast Communities Coordinator, Welcoming Michigan
Jocelyn Skolnik – El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center, West Palm Beach, FL 
Thomas Wahlrab – Former Executive Director, City of Dayton Human Relations Council
Brenda Zion – Executive Director, OneMorgan County Fort Morgan, CO  

A Nation of Immigrants: President Obama Recognizes Citizenship Day 2013
September 18, 2013
On September 17th, we paused to recognize National Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and to reaffirm our pride as a nation of immigrants. In more than 180 naturalization ceremonies taking place this week, over 18,000 new citizens are being welcomed into the American family. But today we are also reminded of the countless individuals who at this point in our nation’s history do not have the opportunity to earn their citizenship. 11 million people are waiting in the shadows as a result of our broken immigration system, which is why the President and his Administration stand firmly with the majority of Americans pushing for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to earned citizenship. We know it is possible, we just need Congress to act, and finish the job.

Catholics Mobilize for Immigration Reform
September 11, 2013
Fixing our immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers and cut the deficit according to an August White House report describing the economic benefits of immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship. As the push for immigration reform charges into the fall, a diverse coalition of religious leaders is also calling attention to the moral aspects of this debate. Their efforts remind us that the immigration system is designed to do more than strengthen our economy and national security: it also serves to protect those who aspire to live, work and thrive in this great nation.

Welcoming Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to the Obama Administration
September 5, 2013
On September 4, Secretary Tom Pérez was sworn in at the Department of Labor. During his remarks, Secretary Pérez shared his own personal story of how he has “lived the American dream.” The son of Dominican immigrants, he was raised in a modest home in Buffalo, New York. The constant encouragement from his family and mentors and an unwavering commitment to working hard ultimately led him to pay his way through college by working as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse. After earning his law degree, Secretary Pérez has had an impressive career in both elected and appointed office, most recently as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Get Involved

Combating Immigration Scams and the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to take part in a national stakeholder engagement at the Tomich Center on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at 1 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss recent immigration scams and learn how USCIS is partnering with agencies to combat this trend through the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL) initiative. If you are not able to join in person you can join via teleconference.

Who: USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, officials from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice
What: Discussion on the Federal partnership to combat UPIL through public education, capacity building, and enforcement.
When: Friday, September 20th at 1pm ET
Where: Tomich Center or via Teleconference
To RSVP: Please visit the registration page

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: How to Become a U.S. Citizen/How to Petition for Immediate Relative
This national multilingual engagement will be conducted in Mandarin on September 26, 2013, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern). The format will be both a live stream and a call. To listen in call 1-800-857-6924, password: Jiao liú.

Who: USCIS
What: Multilingual engagement on how to become a U.S. citizen and petition for an immediate relative.
When: Thursday, September 26th at 7:30 pm ET.
Where: The format will be both a live stream and a call.
To Listen In: Call 1-800-857-6924, password: Jiao liú.