To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson at the foot of the Statue of Liberty in 1965, the White House hosted a special naturalization ceremony Monday to welcome 14 new Americans originally from 14 different countries including Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Philippines, Venezuela, Chile, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia. These individuals’ professions include teacher, cardiologist, broker, hair stylist, taxi driver, printer, and more.
“The Republicans and Democrats who came together to pass the INA were driven by a desire to expand opportunity for all, and to live up to our heritage as a nation of immigrants,” President Barack Obama said in a statement over the weekend. “They understood that immigration contributes to our economic growth by allowing hard-working, entrepreneurial individuals from around the world to pursue the American dream.”
The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act ended a quota system which gave unfair preference to immigrants from European countries, and replaced it with a system emphasizing family reunification and skilled workers. It also prohibited discrimination based on country of origin.
Since then, according to Pew Research Center, the nation's foreign-born population has grown from 9.6 million in 1965 to 45 million this year, with about half coming from Latin America and a quarter from Asia.
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In addition to celebrating how generations of immigrants “have shaped this country and helped make America great,” President Obama pledged. “We recommit ourselves to fighting for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of the 21st century, grows the economy for everybody, and lives up to our highest ideals.”
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