"This country - your country - wholeheartedly welcomes you."

AG Garland Welcomes Newest Citizens

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Foundation was honored to be a part of a September 17 Naturalization Ceremony that welcomed 200 of our nation’s newest citizens. Following in the footsteps of 12 million Ellis Island immigrants, the candidates, who hailed from more than 60 countries, gathered in the monument’s historic Great Hall.

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Attorney General Merrick Garland led them through the oath of allegiance and proclaimed, “This country – your country – wholeheartedly welcomes you.”

En route to Ellis Island, the soon-to-be citizens took the same journey as countless immigrants before them, boarding a ferry in New York Harbor, sailing past Lady Liberty, and waiting for their name to be called by officials in the Registry Room.

The occasion was extra special as it marked the 235th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution and was Citizenship Day (#ConstitutionDay, #CitizenshipDay). In addition to Attorney General Garland, speakers included Tamika Gray, District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) NY District Office serving as Master of Ceremony; the National Park Service’s John Hnedak, Deputy Superintendent, Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island providing welcoming remarks; and USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou for the Call of Countries and Presentation of Candidates.

Our Foundation’s President and CEO, Jesse Brackenbury, also addressed attendees saying ‘Today, you follow in the footsteps of 12 million Ellis Island Immigrants who passed through here on the final leg of their journey to a new life. Like you, each made a mark on our nation. Like you, millions took the Oath of Allegiance to become naturalized citizens. Like you, they were American by Choice.”

He also acknowledged the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which supported the day’s program. “In keeping with the mission of its founder, Andrew Carnegie, the Corporation is committed to helping immigrants like all of you become citizens who can participate fully in our democracy.”

After receiving their certificates of citizenship, the new Americans received a copy of JOURNEYS: An American Story. This collection of 72 essays celebrates the vastness and variety of immigration tales in America. Foundation board member Andrew Tisch compiled the book and donated copies to commemorate the ceremony.

Photos courtesy of Carnegie Corporation of New York