Mr. Obama addressed 13 members of the military and seven military spouses just before they were formally sworn in as American citizens. The president said the fact that those service members were willing “to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own” is further proof that the U.S. is stronger when it embraces immigrants.
“What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship. Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another. And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform,” the president said at the ceremony, held at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.
“If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind: the value of our immigrants to our way of life. It is central who we are. It’s in our DNA,” Mr. Obama continued. “And that means moving forward, we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.”
The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the measure remains stalled in the House. The White House repeatedly has listed it as one of its top issues this year.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is scheduled to hold a press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye later on Friday, and the two men also will have dinner together later in the day.
The president’s visit to Seoul comes amid fears North Korea may soon test another nuclear weapon.