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Aug 26, 2020

President Trump’s RNC Naturalization Ceremony Was Misleading

Elizabeth Latimer

Last night, The Republican National Convention broadcast featured a prerecorded segment in which President Trump hosted a naturalization ceremony for five candidates at the White House. The president attempted to soften his image of being harsh on immigration by highlighting the achievements of these five diverse individuals and emphasizing the incredible honor of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. The bitter irony is that while he was lauding these individuals and our naturalization process, President Trump and his administration have enacted numerous policy changes over the past three and half years with the goal of hindering all forms of immigration. More specifically, they are not working to speed up the process for the over 300,000 naturalization candidates currently waiting for their interviews or oath ceremonies. There is a stark contradiction between the intended message behind this ceremony and the actions of the Trump Administration with respect to legal immigration.

All of that aside, ethical and legal questions arise from the setting of the ceremony. This ceremony being held at the White House to promote Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign was likely a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government from participating in partisan political activities. While the Hatch Act specifically exempts the President, White House staffers were likely involved in setting up this event at the White House. Additionally, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf administered the oaths of allegiance at the ceremony. While a violation of the Hatch Act would not render the naturalizations void, it leads to confusion of the propriety of using the White House for campaign activities.

While it is important to share the stories of newly naturalized U.S. citizens and show appreciation for our nation’s naturalization process, the pro-immigrant message of last night’s ceremony is contradicted by the administration’s actions. When considered along with the questionable choice of setting and involvement of public servants, the ceremony likely led to misleading conclusions from many viewers.

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