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            Oath of Allegiance-Citizenship Ceremony

            Wednesday, October 21, 2020

            Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
            U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
            Oath of Allegiance-Citizenship Ceremony
            U.S. Customs and Immigration Service
            U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office, Fairfax, VA
            Wednesday, October 21, 2020

            Thank you, Kim, for that nice introduction. ?And let me acknowledge Deputy District Director Sarah Taylor, and Section Chief Victoria Moody as well.

            What a treat it is to be here! ?I know all of you will remember this day as one of the most important days of your lives. ?As a citizen of the United States, you will have many new privileges, including being able to vote (when you’re of age), and to carry that precious blue passport when you travel. ?I hope you will always cherish these opportunities and privileges. ?

            Like you, I’m an immigrant. ?I am Chinese-American. ?My parents grew up in China. ?I was born in Taiwan. ?I came to America when I was in the 3rd grade. ?My father went to America first and it took him 3 years before he could bring us to America. ?We came on a cargo ship, because that was all my father could afford. ?The trip took more than a month! ? Our initial years in America were really tough. ?We didn’t speak English. ?We couldn’t eat the food, didn’t know anyone. ? ?The kids were mean to us. ?My father held 3 jobs to make ends meet. ?Every day, I sat in the classroom and I didn’t understand anything but I copied everything on the blackboard into my notebook. ?Every night, after a long day’s work, my father would translate the day’s lessons. ?That’s how I learned English. ?

            We had to wait five years to get our green cards, and another 5 years for citizenship when I was 19 years old. ?I got it like you did, through my parents who applied for citizenship. ?I still remember how relieved my parents were when we finally received our citizenship. ?It was as if we could finally exhale!?

            But look where I ended up! ?Each of you has your own story of coming to America, forming the rich tapestry of American history. You’re going to have wonderful, impactful lives. ? To the parents, I am here to affirm that your hard work and sacrifices are worth it! This is a wonderful country with many opportunities! ? To the children, please be nice to your parents. ?They’ve sacrificed so much so you can live in this country of opportunity. Congratulations on the first day of the rest of your life as an American citizen!