Few would attempt to deny the claim that America as we know it is a nation of immigrants. In fact, several National Park Service units explore the idea and history of immigration in the United States.
However, none is so linked with immigration as Ellis Island, a part of Statue of Liberty National Monument. It has been estimated that nearly 40 percent of Americans have at least one ancestor who came through the immigration station that operated in New York Harbor between 1892 and 1954.
It is fitting then, that each year the Registry Room (aka Great Hall)) at Ellis Island is the site of at least one naturalization ceremony conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a part of the Department of Homeland Security. On Friday, December 4th, Janet Napolitano, a native New Yorker and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, presided over a naturalization ceremony for 109 people representing 49 countries of origin.
“Ellis Island reminds us of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that so many immigrants have brought to America,” said Napolitano. “I am honored to welcome these men and women as citizens of our nation and I applaud their commitment to the responsibilities and ideals shared by all Americans.”
USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said in her remarks during the ceremony that “it is fitting that these individuals received today the cherished gift of citizenship on this historic island, a national symbol of hope and opportunity.”
David Luchsinger, superintendent of Statue of Liberty NM and Ellis Island, offered the welcome on behalf of the National Park Service.
"The podium I am standing at and the wooden benches you are sitting on are a part of the rich history of Ellis Island,” said Luchsinger. “In a few moments, you new citizens will become a part of that rich history as well.”