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They came from Germany and Jamaica, Guatemala and Ghana. Twenty-five members of the armed forces and their spouses — representing 15 countries — were sworn in as the newest U.S. citizens during a Fourth of July naturalization ceremony at the White House. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, himself an immigrant from Cuba, delivered the oath of allegiance as President Barack Obama looked on.

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Obama reminded the newest Americans that they are what the nation was built on 238 years ago, and praised them for choosing to fight for their adopted homeland. “Many of you did something extraordinary. You signed up to serve in the United States military. You answered that call,” Obama said. The celebration comes as the politically divisive immigration issue has drawn renewed attention after tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. Obama announced earlier this week that, as a result of lawmakers’ inaction, he will pursue non-legislative ways that he can adjust U.S. immigration policy without waiting for Congress to act.



— Erik Ortiz

The Associated Press contributed to this report.