From: Evan McMorris-Santoro [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 12:23 PM
To: Gabriel, Brian
Subject: In-town pool report #3: Naturalization ceremony
At 11.21 AM ET, poll was led into the National Archives Rotunda for the Charters Of Freedom, where POTUS was the keynote speaker at a naturalization ceremony for new American citizens. POTUS spoke from a lectern placed in front of the Archives' display of the Constitution.
Background from the White House:
"Today, on the 224th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, the President will deliver keynote remarks at a naturalization ceremony for 31 naturalization candidates from 25 different countries at the National Archives.
The presiding judge at today’s ceremony is The Honorable Richard W. Roberts, Chief Judge, US District Court for the District of Columbia. Other officials participating in the ceremony include: David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security; and Director Leon Rodriguez, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security.
Additionally, today, the White House Task Force on New Americans released its One Year Progress Report summarizing the progress that has been made to enhance federal efforts to more effectively integrate immigrants and refugees into local areas by building more welcoming communities."
The ceremony itself was upbeat, with excited new citizens raising their right hands and take the Pledge Of Allegiance for the first time as Americans. There was a reading of the Preamble to the Constitution by a group of D.C. middle schoolers. Your pooler spotted National Archives gift bags on the seats of each new citizen. Miniature American flags were in abundance.
POTUS spoke after the swearing in. His remarks had a heavy charge given the politics of the current moment.
He noted that the immigrants from 25 different countries "don't look alike and don't worship" at the same places but, in the Archives rotunda, now "surrounded by the very documents who bind us together as one people, you have raised your hand."
"Immigration is our origin story. For more than two centuries, it's remained at the core of our national character," POTUS said. "It's our oldest tradition. It makes us who we are."
POTUS spoke of the contributions of immigrants to the nation as well as the some of the persecutions they faced. He said the nation has sometimes "succumbed to fear," such as during the Japanese internment which he called "one of the darkest chapters of our history."
He warned against succumbing to fear again.
"We suggest that there is us and there is them," Obama said. "Not remembering that we used to be them." (Full transcript of remarks to come.)
At 12.17 PM ET, pool was led back to the vans for the trip back to the WH.