Today Mayor Rothschild hosted a naturalization ceremony at City Hall where 28 people from six countries took the Oath of Allegiance, becoming U.S. citizens.
The last step in the difficult and years-long process of becoming a citizen, the naturalization ceremony is a happy time for participants and their families. During and after today’s ceremony, people waved American flags, posed for photos in front of the flag, and spoke with great feeling about their gratitude at being part of this country.
One new citizen specifically thanked Mayor Rothschild, noting that she had had to go through the process twice, and never could have done it without the resources she found through the mayor’s Citizenship Campaign.
Mayor Rothschild welcomed everyone and delivered closing remarks, noting his own family’s arrival from Russia generations ago. His prepared remarks are below.
Good morning, and congratulations!
I am so pleased to welcome you to this naturalization ceremony.
In November of last year, I announced that Tucson was joining 25 other cities and counties as part of Cities for Citizenship, promoting naturalization to eligible permanent residents.
Initially, our partners were Chicanos Por La Causa, Citi, Vantage West Credit Union, Pima Community College, the Pima County Library and USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Since then, more than 30 additional partners have joined in this effort.
You all know, because you’ve been through it, that becoming a naturalized citizen is not an easy process. We’ve tried to make it easier, with information about free English language and citizenship classes, and with loan programs to help with application fees and other expenses. If you have family or friends who want to become U.S. citizens, tell them to visit my website, mayorrothschild.com/citizen, or to contact my office and ask about my citizenship program.
Some of you have been here a long time. Many have not.
Our language, our customs, may be challenging—at times confusing.
I’m concerned, however, that this may be an especially confusing time for new citizens.
For generations, the United States has been known for certain values—American values. These values are being challenged as they have not been challenged for many, many years.
They include the belief in equality of opportunity—the ability to have access to a good education, an education that prepares you to get and keep a good job and prepares you for citizenship—an education that teaches you history and civics and gives you essential life skills, such as reading comprehension and critical thinking.
They include the belief in religious freedom—the freedom to belong to any religion, or not to belong to any religion.
They include the belief in freedom of speech, but they also include the responsibility not to use that freedom to lie. Lies have great potential to destroy—people and organizations, institutions and governments.
They include the belief in civil liberties—equal protection under the law—regardless of gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or any other characteristic.
And they include the belief in the value of helping one another. We like to think of ourselves as independent, but we all depend on each other.
Citizenship in the United States comes with great responsibilities—including the responsibility to live by and protect these American values.
I often find that the people who have made the decision to become a U.S. citizen take the responsibilities that come with citizenship very seriously—and that’s great. In fact, that’s what we need.
You’ve all passed the citizenship test. But to me, every day is its own citizenship test. Every day, we have the opportunity to live up to the best of American values. Every day, we have the opportunity to protect these values when they come under attack. Every day, we have the opportunity to learn about our city, our state, our country. And every year, or two years, or four years, we have the opportunity to vote for the people we want to lead our government and protect these American values that we cherish.
I want to congratulate all of you for taking on the responsibility of becoming U.S. citizens, and I also want to congratulate our community. I believe Tucson is a better and stronger community because we welcome immigrants and refugees—people like you.
So again, congratulations, and thank you. Welcome to Tucson.
Before, I welcomed you as immigrants and neighbors. Now, I welcome you as citizens.
I know you take this responsibility seriously. I know you’ll cast an informed vote in every election. How do you do that? You talk to other people, including people you disagree with. You read and listen to and watch reputable news organizations—and a variety of reputable news organizations. Not every organization that calls itself a news organization is reputable. But here are some that are: the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the PBS News Hour. Start there. And pay attention to local news, too. Read the newspaper. Watch TV news. Journalists are an essential part of our democracy. They are accountable for what they report, but when they meet the highest standards of their profession, they deserve our respect and our thanks.
Again, I’m delighted to welcome you to citizenship. Congratulations!