President Trump, in his first official video message to newly minted U.S. citizens, welcomes them into the “American family” and exhorts them to “help newcomers assimilate to our way of life,” according to a copy of the video requested by The Washington Post.
The video will debut Friday after a citizenship ceremony at the National Archives in Washington. Thirty immigrants, from Mexico, Eritrea and other countries, will take the oath of citizenship.
A recorded presidential message has been played for new citizens at naturalization ceremonies since the administration of George W. Bush. Presidents also typically issue congratulatory letters.
What Trump would say in his video has been a point of curiosity for immigration advocates and others since he took office in January and began acting on campaign promises to dramatically reduce legal and illegal immigration. Citizenship applications soared last year, which some liberal groups said was a response to Trump's candidacy and his tough talk on immigration.
In his 1 minute, 37 second video — one second longer than President Barack Obama’s — Trump lauds the “devotion to America” that he believes the new citizens will feel.
“No matter where you come from or what faith you practice, this country is now your country,” Trump says in the video. “You enjoy the full rights, and the sacred duties, that come with American citizenship — very, very special.”
“You now share the obligation to teach our values to others, to help newcomers assimilate to our way of life,” he adds.
That phrase could serve as a reminder of controversial claims Trump made last year on the campaign trail: that Muslims and other immigrants were failing to adapt to an American way of life.
Trump also signals that the United States should be the only home for American citizens. While new citizens take an oath renouncing allegiances to foreign states, many maintain dual citizenship if their countries of origin allow it.
“America is our home. We have no other,” Trump says in the video. “You have pledged allegiance to America. And when you give your love and loyalty to America, she returns her love and loyalty to you.”
Trump tells new citizens that Americans are “your brothers and sisters,” with “one American heart and one American destiny.”
In addition to unveiling the video Friday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke will deliver a keynote address to immigrants from Benin, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Guyana, India, Italy, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Togo and Vietnam.
The event marks U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and kicks off a week of citizenship ceremonies nationwide. More than 30,000 green-card holders will officially become citizens at more than 200 ceremonies through Sept. 22.
Trump’s welcoming video debuts as Congress is debating proposals that could reduce the number of immigrants who come to the United States legally and get on a path to U.S. citizenship. The president has thrown his support behind the Raise Act, a Republican proposal in the Senate that would slash legal immigration levels by half over a decade.
Congress also is debating the future of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, including nearly 700,000 immigrants granted two-year, renewable work permits by Obama. The Trump administration announced last week that they will phase out Obama’s 2012 program, but the president has since indicated he will work with Congress to find a way to allow its beneficiaries to stay.
Asked Thursday if he would support a path to U.S. citizenship for the young undocumented immigrants, Trump told reporters: “We’re not talking about that. We’re not talking about amnesty at all.”