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Secretary Napolitano and USCIS Director Mayorkas Lead Naturalization Ceremony for More Than 100 New Citizens on Ellis Island

Release Date: 
December 4, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

New York—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today was joined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas to lead a naturalization ceremony for more than 100 citizenship candidates from more than 40 countries at Ellis Island.

“Ellis Island reminds us of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that so many immigrants have brought to America,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am honored to welcome these men and women as citizens of our nation and I applaud their commitment to the responsibilities and ideals shared by all Americans.”

“I am honored to be joined by Secretary Napolitano in recognizing these men and women from around the world who have made America their home,” said Director Mayorkas. “It is fitting that these individuals received today the cherished gift of citizenship on this historic island, a national symbol of hope and opportunity.”

Citizens naturalized in today’s ceremony hail from more than 40 different countries—including China, Ghana, Kosovo, Colombia, Jamaica and Lebanon—and serve in professions ranging from computer programming to military service. One new citizen is a survivor of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.

During the ceremony, Secretary Napolitano presented the “Outstanding American by Choice Award” to distinguished journalist and host of National Public Radio’s “Latino USA.,” Maria Hinojosa. Ms. Hinojosa is the 74th recipient of this award—which recognizes the commitment of naturalized citizens to the United States and their local communities—for her involvement with the Hispanic community in New York and professional achievements as a journalist.

While in New York City, Secretary Napolitano delivered remarks to the America-Israel Friendship League; visited regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and USCIS offices; met with private sector leaders to discuss the shared responsibility of protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure; and toured the U.S. Secret Service-led Electronic Crimes Task Force facility. She also appeared on The Colbert Report.

Following today’s naturalization ceremony, Secretary Napolitano will conclude her visit to New York City with a tour of the U.S. Secret Service-led Electronic Crimes Task Force facility and a security briefing at the New York Stock Exchange.

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