(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS) and the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) today kicked off a partnership to welcome new American citizens to the United States at some of our more historic and picturesque national parks. USCIS Director Emilio T. Gonzalez, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, made the announcement during a ceremony in celebration of Citizenship Day at Ellis Island, the historic gateway of immigration to the United States. During a special naturalization ceremony, Director Gonzalez administered the Oath of Allegiance to more than 100 New York area residents and Secretary Kempthorne later addressed the new citizens.
Gonzalez and Kempthorne noted that in commemoration of Citizenship Day and Constitution Week (Sept. 17th to Sept. 23rd), more than 28,000 new Americans will be sworn in at approximately 133 citizenship ceremonies around the nation. This year, USCIS expects to help more than 650,000 men, women and children from nearly every country on the globe become U.S. citizens.
“There is an enduring connection between the American people and our national parks, which this partnership celebrates by presenting new opportunities to enhance the meaning and stature of citizenship ceremonies,” remarked Gonzalez. “National parks provide the perfect backdrop to citizenship ceremonies and allow the National Park Service to build connections between new citizens and America’s system of national parks.”
“The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are honored to be the very first to welcome these new Americans,” said Kempthorne. “This land is now their land and we look to these new American citizens as the stewards of our parks so that the parks will endure for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The announcement of this partnership coincides with an Executive Order signed by President Bush creating the “Task Force on New Americans” which is mandated to strengthen the efforts of Federal, State, and local agencies to help integrate legal immigrants into American society. The cooperation of USCIS and the NPS is one of the many ways that the Department of Homeland Security is working to fulfill this mandate and welcome new immigrants to American society.
CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES AT NATIONAL PARKS SEPTEMBER 17-23
Sunday, September 17th
- National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, DC
Monday, September 18th
- Ellis Island National Monument, New York, NY
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, MO
- Homestead National Park, Beatrice, NE
- Charles Pinckney National Historical Site, Charleston, SC
Wednesday, September 20
- Cabrillo National Monument (Military Naturalization), San Diego, CA
Friday, September 22
- Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, CA
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mosca, CO