On April 25, 2017, the Museum was honored to host the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a special naturalization ceremony that welcomed 141 new citizens. USCIS New York District Director Phyllis A. Coven and Museum President & CEO Michael S. Glickman were joined by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, who administered the Oath of Allegiance to the new citizens.
Robert M. Morgenthau, Chairman Emeritus of the Museum and former District Attorney for New York County, the borough of Manhattan, delivered the following remarks.
I am proud to be able to be one of the first to address you as my fellow Americans. As you all know, the United States has a long history of immigration, starting with the pilgrims. Eight signers of the Declaration of Independence were immigrants. And here today Judge Katzmann, Chief Justice of the Second Circuit, is the son of immigrants. Sonia Sotomayor, recently appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, is the daughter of immigrants. The late Chief Justice of the state of New York, Judge Judith Kaye, was the daughter of an illegal immigrant.
I know you’ve come a long, hard road, more difficult than some would ever face, and we welcome you. We live up to the model of E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.
I myself am the grandson of an immigrant. He arrived in 1866 at Castle Clinton, 10 years old speaking no word of English, with three teenage brothers, all who spoke no English. There were not a lot signs saying, ‘Welcome Morgenthau’ but the doors were open. Six years later he would get into City College but had to drop out in the first year because he was the youngest of 12 children, and his father said ‘You have to help support the family.’ He went to work in a law office. At age 18, without ever graduating college, he got into Columbia Law School. He became active in business, politics, and became the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. I just mention that because I know how important it is for people to engage in public service.
Now, you will follow many routes. You may be small business people. You may be technicians. You may go into government. But always remember where you came from. Remember that all of us have an obligation to help immigrants.
Elie Wiesel once said “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Let’s never be indifferent to the needs of immigrants.
We welcome you, and we know you’ll be an asset to the United States, and fill the needs of this country through skills, competence, energy, and loyalty to the United States. Thank you all for making the decision of becoming citizens of the United States, and God bless you.