President Joe Biden recorded a video that will be played at naturalization ceremonies welcoming new US citizens in which he thanks them for choosing the United States and invokes his own ancestors who emigrated from Ireland.
“I want to thank you for choosing us and believing that America is worthy of your aspirations,” Biden says.
“You all have one thing in common: Courage. The courage it takes to sacrifice and make this journey. The courage to leave your homes, your lives, your loved ones, and come to a nation that is more than just a place but rather an idea,” he says.
“Today you’ve earned a new title equal to that of an American president, the title I’m most proud of: Citizen. Citizen of the United States of America,” he adds. “Welcome my friends, welcome my fellow Americans, welcome.”
More on Immigration
It’s a tradition for US presidents to record a message for the hundreds of naturalization ceremonies that occur around the country each year. Many of those in-person ceremonies have been altered during the pandemic.
President Donald Trump, who sought to curb the level of legal immigration into the United States and frequently used anti-immigrant rhetoric at his rallies, also recorded a video for naturalization ceremonies at the start of his term.
Trump said new immigrants had an obligation to help other immigrants “assimilate to our way of life.”
He said: “Our history is now your history, our traditions are now your traditions.”
Trump also hosted a taped naturalization ceremony at the White House during the Republican National Convention last year.
Biden recorded the video at a fraught moment for US immigration as waves of migrants from Central America arrive at the Southern border.
US Customs and Border Protection encountered 171,700 migrants in March, including a record number of unaccompanied minors, which far exceeds the prior month’s totals and continuing an upward trend dating back to last year, according to preliminary data obtained by CNN.
Biden administration officials are scrambling to set up emergency sites to house migrant children. Work in Congress to overhaul the immigration system has been mostly stalled.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.