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Biden Naturalization Address Speaks Powerfully to Who We Want to Be as a Nation

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The American idea at its best is the American dream come to life for America’s newcomers

 In a new video address to be played at U.S. naturalization ceremonies, President Biden states:

“Thank you for choosing us and believing that America is worthy of your aspirations. 

Every immigrant comes to America for different circumstances and for different reasons, but you all have one thing in common, courage. The courage it takes to sacrifice and make this journey. The courage to leave your homes, your lives, your loved ones and come to a nation that is more than just a place but rather an idea, an idea that where everyone is created equally and deserves to be treated equally. The idea that we have as a nation and we can define America in one word, possibilities.

… Since its founding that very idea has been nurtured, enriched and advanced by the contributions, sacrifices and dreams of immigrants like you … And today you’ve earned a new title, equal that of an American president. The title I’m most proud of — citizen, citizen of the United States of America. 

I look forward to standing with you as you embrace your new rights and responsibilities. As you build your lives and legacies here as generations have done before you in this great nation of immigrants.”

These are the values and vision underscoring the Biden administration’s proposed approaches to fixing our dysfunctional immigration system. President Biden has promised reforms that deliver the “rights and responsibilities” of citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants already contributing to the fabric of American communities. And President Biden has promised to transform a border-centric, deportation and deterrence-focused approach to migration from Central America into a regional plan that channels the movement of refugees and migrants into legal channels from the region while addressing the causes that compel out-migration from Central America.

As Caitlin Dickerson spells out in her new piece in The Atlantic, “America Never Wanted the Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses,” our country’s immigration policy has long failed to live up to the ideals inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. She writes:

“As the country moves forward from the past four years of harsh immigration policies, it must reckon with a history that stretches back much further, and that conflicts with one of the most frequently repeated American myths.

…In moving toward the more inclusive system that some elected officials now say they want, the country would be not returning to traditional American values, but establishing new ones.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Throughout our history, America has been a magnet for the people from every corner of the world. Immigrants and refugees have made America a better place and stronger nation at every stage of our nation’s development. 

Those who want to keep out and kick out immigrants and refugees undermine the very definition of America as a hopeful, proud and confident nation. It’s time to live true to our ideals, move forward with a can-do spirit, and get big things done. 

President Biden’s video address on citizenship for new Americans, along with his assertive policy agenda to transform our outdated and broken immigration system, offers hope that we are ready to move closer to an America worthy of immigrants’ aspirations and the welcoming nation we aspire to be.

For more on the solutions being proposed by the Biden administration: