Judge Marvin Aspen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, who conducted the naturalization ceremony, described the setting as “truly appropriate.”
“It is the lawyers of America who for the past two centuries have waged and are waging a never-ending battle to protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the citizenship you are about to receive,” he told the 24 immigrants before they took the oath.
Silkenat called the ABA Midyear Meeting a fitting venue for the special event. “As lawyers and judges, our passion and our mission is to help maintain those freedoms that have made America the land of opportunity,” he said. “The rule of law is at the heart of what makes America such a dynamic and successful society.”
Aspen said that becoming a U.S. citizen is “no small undertaking” and told the immigrants that the nation joins them in celebrating this monumental day.
“Your citizenship is even more special because, unlike most of us, each of you has made a conscious and public decision to take part in this great citizen democracy, and because of this continuous transfusion of new blood — the energy, idealism and enthusiasm you add — our nation grows even stronger and more committed to stay the course of democratic rule,” Aspen said. “This is the blessing that immigration has served us as a nation.”
After the oath was administered, Silkenat thanked the new citizens for their optimism and their faith and trust in the promise of America.
“America derives its strengths from the rich diversity of all who have brought their talents, ideas and experiences here to fulfill their dreams,” Silkenat said. “Our national character is defined by the diversity of our people. This diversity of viewpoints is what makes America special.”
Silkenat said he hoped the new citizens would feel empowered by their new rights, responsibilities and freedoms to pursue their dreams.
“You too will leave your mark, and we will all be the better for it,” he told them.
“We at the ABA, all of us here, welcome you as fellow Americans,” he concluded.