In 1965, President Johnson stood on Liberty Island in the shadow of our Statue of Liberty and signed into law the Immigration and Nationality Act. The passage of the Act marked a significant and much-needed change to our Nation’s immigration policies. It ended an unfair quota system, prohibited discrimination based on country of origin, and officially recognized the role of our immigration system in reuniting families and attracting skilled workers from all over the world.
In 1960, I immigrated to this country with my parents and sister as political refugees from Cuba. Seven years after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, I became a naturalized United States citizen. Now, some 43 years later, I had the privilege of administering the Oath of Allegiance to 100 new citizens in a special naturalization ceremony in the White House. This remarkable country is like no other.
On Monday of this week, October 3, I participated in a special naturalization ceremony that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The ceremony was held in the beautiful Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex. I was honored to join Cecilia Muñoz, the leader of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, and León Rodríguez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as we welcomed 100 new citizens from 44 countries around the globe. Renowned historian and author Taylor Branch shared with us all the meaning and significance of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation of opportunity. I am blessed to be a citizen of the United States.
Deputy Secretary Mayorkas administers the Oath of Allegiance at a special naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Indian Treaty Room. Official DHS photo.