Legal Commentary by Monte Vines

U.S. Citizenship–Through the Eyes of Naturalized Citizens

American flag
Photo credit: Wikipedia

What is it about your citizenship in your country that you appreciate, or even find precious?  I’m sure there are many things.  But how often do we take the time to think about that?  Most of us have our citizenship because we were born in this country—it’s a birthright.  So sometimes we may take our citizenship for granted—because it is.

June 14 is Flag Day, and of course July 4 is Independence Day.  So in this time of year we should take some time to think about what our citizenship in our country means to us—the rights, the responsibilities, the blessings.

A great way to help you think about your citizenship in the United States is to hear from people who have made the choice to give up their citizenship in the country of their birth and become citizens of the U.S.  It’s a long and challenging process–very important and profound for these people—to renounce their allegiance to the country of their birth and pledge allegiance to a different country.

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization.  Our federal courts handle that process, and conduct the ceremony by which these people transfer their allegiance to the United States.  If you haven’t ever seen a naturalization ceremony, you should do that sometime.

Here is a very well-done video of several naturalized citizens discussing what it meant to them to become U.S. citizens.  It is titled The American Dream in Kansas: In Their Own Words.  It was made for the federal district court of Kansas as a project to recognize the 150th year of the court. The first ten minutes of this video is devoted to what these naturalized citizens, originally from countries like South Korea, Russia, Sudan, India, Mexico, Pakistan, England, Ecuador, Switzerland and Canada have to say about their experience.  It is moving, inspiring, poignant.  It’s a great way to reflect on or generate discussion about what it means for any of us to be an American citizen.

Do yourself a big favor and watch the first ten minutes of this video.  Use it as an opportunity for you to consider what your United States citizenship means to you.

If you can’t access the video through the text link above, copy this link and paste it into your browser:

6 Responses to U.S. Citizenship–Through the Eyes of Naturalized Citizens

  1. Not only did I watch the first 10 minutes of the video, I listened to the entire thing! It was a wonderful and heartwarming reminder of what we so easily take for granted as American-born citizens. Thank you, Monte.

  2. My grandfather came from Guangzhou (Canton) China to escape communism. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if he had not done so. We do take so much for granted here.

  3. Thank you, Monte, for posting this blog and video. Having just recently witnessed the naturalization ceremony of a dear friend from China, and sensing her enthusiasm and joy in becoming a US citizen, I know she would echo the sentiments of each of the respondents in the video. Her ceremony in which she was part of a group of 85 new citizens from over 30 countries brought tears to many eyes. The climax of pledging allegiance and seeing a video featuring the song “God bless the USA” (“I’m proud to be an America”) seemed to capture the moment for all of us. Thanks, Monte

  4. Monte, this actually brought tears to my eyes! It’s so powerful and moving. This is something most of us take for granted so it was a great reminder to appreciate what we have been given that others want so badly!

  5. Thank you, Monte. This meaningful video brought back memories of the day in 2005 when our international student from Bulgaria became a US Citizen at the same Federal Courthouse. Bulgaria was a communist country until 1991. He was the only one of our students over the years who was granted a visa to become a citizen. On the day in 2000 when he arrived in Kansas City, where we lived, he was considered a permanent U.S. Resident. During the five years of the citizenship process, he worked hard at his job, helped with the youth group at our church, graduated with honors from the University of Kansas, and went on to get a Master’s Degree. He read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution numerous times and marveled at their words. The ceremony was quite moving. Officiating were various Judges, our U.S. Congressman and State Legislators, and Mayors of towns from the Kansas side of the metro area. A reception after the ceremony was hosted by the League of Women Voters. The officials mingled with the new citizens, meeting them individually and welcoming them, adding a personal touch to the amazing day. It made us proud to be Americans, and also served as a reminder of how much we take for granted. Happy Independence Day to us all, and may God bless America!

  6. Monte, I hope millions of Americans see this. You have provided a service by encouraging others to view it. Most of us lose sight of the fact that our ancestors were immigrants. I believe the U.S. should make it much, much easier for people to immigrate lawfully to this country. That would be very much to the benefit not only of the immigrants, but to the U.S.A.

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