Columns

No Welcome Message Yet from Trump for New U.S. Citizen Ceremonies

Medical staff stand by victims killed at a Paris restaurant in a terror spree on Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

WASHINGTON – After more than 7 months in office, President Trump has not recorded a welcome message for new United States citizens to be played at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremonies, PJM has learned.

“Following a change in administrations, it typically takes several months for a new letter and video message to be produced and distributed to USCIS field offices. In the initial weeks of the interim period, USCIS historically does not provide a congratulatory letter or show a video message,” an agency spokesperson said.

“A welcome letter and video from President Trump will be included in all naturalization packets throughout the United States as soon as they are received,” the spokesperson added.

Green card holders at least 18 years old are eligible to apply for citizenship after living in the U.S. legally as a permanent resident for 5 years. Married green card holders can apply after 3 years of permanent residency. The application for citizenship costs $680, not counting any immigration attorney fees.

According to USCIS, the Homeland Security secretary provided the administration’s initial welcome video during previous presidential transitions. Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly recorded a welcome video that was shown at naturalization ceremonies, but it is no longer being played now that Kelly is serving as the White House chief of staff.

“USCIS is aware that President Trump is working on a welcome video and letter; however, information about the exact timing or content of a presidential video will have to come from the White House,” an agency spokesperson told PJM. “USCIS is not airing a welcome video at the moment.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the status of a presidential welcome video and letter for new U.S. citizens.

A USCIS public affairs officer recalled that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had recorded welcome videos for new citizens at naturalization ceremonies. In the past, USCIS said it has distributed congratulatory letters to new citizens during naturalization ceremonies from presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama during their terms.

“During the presidential transition in 2009, USCIS began airing an interim congratulatory message from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in April 2009 before airing a message from President Barack Obama in October 2009. USCIS began distributing the congratulatory letter from President Obama in early 2010,” the spokesperson said.

Trump expressed strong opposition to illegal immigration during the presidential campaign but emphasized his support for the legal immigration system. Last year, he invited a man onstage at a campaign rally who was wearing a “legal immigrants for Trump” shirt.

“We want people to come in but they’ve got to come in like you, legally,” Trump said to the man before inviting him to speak.

While announcing the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that “to have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”

“It’s just that simple. There is an open — that would be an open borders policy and the American people have rightly rejected that,” Sessions said. “Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all cannot be accepted. This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.”