46 new Americans take the oath of allegiance at U.S. District Court

January 12, 2018

Naturalization Ceremony honors Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On Guam, new American citizens are sworn in two times a month, but this particular occasion was larger than usual and, given breaking news concerning President Donald Trump on the U.S. mainland, it had no shortage of irony.

 

Trump made the news by first asserting in a meeting with a number of U.S. Congress members that he was frustrated by policies that brought people from "shit hole" countries to the United States, stating his preference for new citizens from countries such as Norway,  and then, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, asserting that an FBI agent member of Special Counsel Mueller's investigation who was removed from the investigation last July was a 'traitor.'

 

In a recorded message played for the newest Americans on Guam from the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Thailand, President Trump conveyed a somewhat different message: 

 

"It is with great pride that I welcome you into the American family. No matter where you come from, or what faith you practice, our country is now your country, our history is now your history and our traditions are now your traditions.You will enjoy the full rights and the sacred duties that come with American citizenship."

 

The keynote speaker to the group was Michael Gadsden, an FBI Special Agent, whose 15 year career on Guam will shortly end. He is the longest serving agent here and in the course of his career, his wife became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

 

Of the basis for naturalization, Gadsden said, "These are the same principles that Martin Luther King advocated for and that he ultimately died for, one afternoon when an assassin's bullet took his life. And given these great losses, and the world society, I encourage every one of you to use this opportunity as new U.S. citizens, to participate fully in this process, to thoroughly engage in it, to examine it, to interrogate it, to help it become better."

 

Gadsden speculated on how Reverend King would have viewed the Guam naturalization ceremony:

 

"He would look at all 46 U.S. citizens and their families, and I think he would be very, very, very pleased, because in that, he would see a rich sea of diversity, a cacophony, a symphony of ethnic diversity, cultural riches and he would be very pleased with the potential that is ahead for every one of you. And he would ask that you fully participate in this experiment that we call 'democracy in America.'"

 

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