USCIS celebrated the World Refugee Day 2012, with a special naturalization ceremony. 19 former refugees took the oath of Allegiance and became new US citizens, during the special Naturalization ceremony at the US Department of State, commemorating the World Refugee Day. The Oath of Allegiance was administered by Jane Holl Lute, the Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Alejandro Mayorkas who himself is a former refugee congratulated the new citizens and he also spoke about the importance of the resettlement efforts for refugees in the United States. He said that the refugees had become permanent residents in the United States more in number than in other countries. The 19 new citizens are not only a testament for their own courage but to the dedication of the USCIS officers towards the humanitarian mission of the US government.
The 19 new citizens are from 9 countries, Bosnia, Vietnam, Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Laos, Pakistan, Iran, Sierra Leone and Thailand. Since 1975, more than 3 million refugees are found to have resettled in the United States. USCIS, DOS, DHS, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Department of Health and Human Services have been playing an important role in the refugee process. Across the globe, around eight people are forced to leave their homes due to war or persecution. The records of 2011 show that the number of displaced refugees who had left their home countries is around 42 million.
The special group of 19 people who became naturalized US citizens include a Marine, a group of three siblings, a husband and wife and others, who have been lawful permanent residents in the United States for a very long time. During this ceremony, Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” and Maria Otero, an undersecretary for the US Department of State were presented “Outstanding American by Choice”, recognizing their important contributions to the nation as naturalized US citizens. Hosseini who is a former asylee addressed the new American citizens along with Otero.