Fresno City Councilmember Oliver Baines praised 754 of the newest U.S. citizens for deciding they wanted to be part of a country “despite all that is going on.”
Baines referenced the Trump administration’s efforts to limit legal immigration and to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arivals (DACA) program that could see 800,000 people lose their shield against deportation.
“We have had difficult discussions in this country,” said Baines, the keynote speaker at the monthly naturalization ceremony in Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center Tuesday morning. “Our past has some dark periods, but we are still a great country because we strive for perfection. We strive to be a more perfect union.”
Baines – who was born in the U.S. and served as a Fresno police officer before getting elected to the council in 2010 – said the new citizens will continue “to refine and make our union perfect.”
“You are what makes this country great! You really are!” said Baines, who was greeted with thunderous applause.
Baines encouraged the new citizens, who represent 41 countries, to “not leave this place without registering to vote.”
He described the vote as “the most important civic duty” they have.
“Many people fought and died so that you all could become citizens and have the right to vote,” said Baines. “Many people fought and died so that i could stand before you and be an elected official.”
Baines reminded the new citizens that they entered into a “covenant” when they took the oath of naturalization and then the ‘Pledge of Allegiance.’
“Make sure you live up to the dream of that promise,” he said. “I expect you to be some of the finest and best citizens this country has ever seen or known.
“Welcome to the United States.”
Where they came from
1. México, 509; 2. India, 74; 3. Philippines, 30; 4. El Salvador, 16; 5. Laos, 15; 6. Thailand, 11; 7. China, Iran, Yemen, 10; 10. Guatemala, 7. Also: Bolivia, 1; Costa Rica, 1; Cuba, 1; Dominican Republic, 1; Honduras, 4; Perú, 1.