President Donald Trump has issued a videotaped message that is being played for new American citizens at naturalization ceremonies in which he welcomes immigrants to “the American family.”
The presidential welcome message is a key part of the naturalization ceremony for immigrants who are becoming U.S. citizens. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush produced similar video messages for use during these events.
The tone and message of Trump’s speech were highly anticipated given the aggressive stance he has taken on immigration, including travel bans from Muslim-majority countries, ending a program shielding nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation and comments referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists.
In the message, Trump welcomes citizens and tells them they should teach American values to others and “help newcomers assimilate to our way of life.”
“Our history is now your history. And our traditions are now your traditions,” he said on the recording.
The speeches by Bush and Obama have some similarities with Trump’s in that they all mention the values of American citizenship. But Trump’s remarks strikes a different tone than those of his predecessors.
“His message seems to be much more, `You need to fold yourself into the American fabric of American citizenship,”’ said Jason Edwards, a professor of communication at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. “There is not a message about the journey of immigrants.”
The video, which was released last week, will be played for more than 9,000 new citizens Wednesday at two naturalization ceremonies in Los Angeles.
Trump’s video comes as more immigrants are applying to become American citizens. More than 1 million people filed applications for citizenship in the year through March 2017, up 23 percent from a year earlier, according to statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Legal service organizations that assist immigrants with the process say they saw a surge in interest in citizenship earlier this year after the president’s executive orders on immigration.
Immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens generally must have been legal permanent residents of the United States for at least three years, show “good moral character” and pass English and civics tests that cover topics such as the Founding Fathers, Constitution and the presidency.