WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is celebrating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, observed on Sept. 17, and Constitution Week, with nearly 240 naturalization ceremonies across the country. More than 38,000 candidates will become America’s newest citizens during the weeklong observance, being recognized this year from Sept. 16-23. The annual commemoration honors the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and an observance that began in 1940 as “I Am an American Day.”
During Constitution Week, we celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the United States. The Constitution plays a meaningful role in the lives of new Americans. It not only establishes the rule of law, but also creates the framework for an immigration system that enables immigrants to become full citizens with the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other.
“I’m proud to have the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance at naturalization ceremonies across the country, where every day, new Americans vow to support and defend the Constitution of this great nation,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said. “This Constitution Week, more than 38,000 more people will take the Oath and become America’s newest citizens, adding to the diversity, strength and character of our country.”
USCIS’ Constitution Week activities this year will feature a naturalization ceremony at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16 – our 100th ceremony to be held at a national or historic site during the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial year. During this event, Director Rodríguez will administer the Oath of Allegiance and deliver congratulatory remarks to 50 new Americans; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy, will give keynote remarks.
Ceremonies like this one highlight USCIS’ partnership with NPS to hold more than 100 naturalization ceremonies in national parks and historic sites this year as a part of NPS’ centennial celebration. USCIS has partnered with NPS since 2006 to honor our nation’s history and the places NPS is charged to protect. These picturesque and quintessentially American places inspire new citizens and those who witness naturalization ceremonies to celebrate and experience our country’s history and natural beauty, and to protect it for future generations.
In partnership with USCIS, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is also holding judicial naturalization ceremonies nationwide to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Federal judges are presiding at naturalization ceremonies scheduled at courthouses, historic landmarks, and NPS sites, including such iconic locations as the Lincoln Memorial, where USCIS Chief of Staff Juliet K. Choi will deliver keynote remarks; Ellis Island; and Yosemite National Park.
Several other ceremonies will feature guest speakers, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Mary Giovagnoli, deputy assistant secretary for immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security.
To view a complete list of 2016 Constitution Week naturalization ceremonies, visit uscis.gov/news.
The Constitution and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are very important in the United States and prospective citizens may see them referenced in several places on the naturalization test. The civics test contains many questions on these two topics, including “What is the supreme law of the land?” and “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?”
To help applicants prepare for the civics test, including questions about the Constitution, USCIS has 100 short videos on YouTube – one video for each possible civics question that prospective citizens may be asked. The videos include subtitles in six different languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional), Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog.
USCIS is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship. We offer many free naturalization preparation resources for citizenship applicants and teachers, including study materials for the English test and civics test, in our Citizenship Resource Center. Immigrant-serving organizations can register to receive a free Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to help permanent residents prepare for naturalization.
This Constitution Week, we are also launching USCIS Instagram with a social media campaign, #MeetUS, featuring new citizens at naturalization ceremonies and showcasing how these immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation. We encourage new citizens and their families and friends to share their experiences and photos from naturalization ceremonies on social media using the hashtag #newUScitizen. For ceremonies held at NPS sites, attendees are also encouraged to use the NPS centennial hashtags #findyourpark and #NPS100.