More than 24,000 people became US citizens in the days leading up to Independence Day in various historical locations across the nation, according to USA Today.
Immigrants were invited to naturalization ceremonies in locales specifically associated with the nation’s revolutionary history, such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and aboard the USS Constitution. A total of nineteen ceremonies were held on the nation’s birthday.
Eight citizenship ceremonies were also held overseas for members of the US military, whom the newspaper said were given priority treatment as thanks for service to the US. Events were held in Baghdad, Iraq on July 4 as well as in Kuwait and Afghanistan in the days before the holiday. Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), told the news source that one service member recently killed in action was offered US citizenship posthumously.
“It’s really breathtaking … that individuals serve in the armed forces and risk their lives for a country and its principles, a country of which they are not yet citizens,” Mayorkas told the source.
Immigrants who serve in the US military are eligible for a fast path to US citizenship. Although the USCIS website reports applicants are usually required to be physically present in the US for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding their application submission, the rule does not apply to military personnel who apply for citizenship while still in active service or within six months of finishing.