FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS TO NEWLY SWORN IN CITIZENS AT NATURALIZATION CEREMONY HOSTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered
"Ms. Quarantillo, thank you. Thank you, everyone, and good morning or maybe since Gordon Elliot is here I should say, 'G'day, New Yorkers.' I really am honored to congratulate each of you on becoming the newest citizens of our great nation and I can't think of a better way to begin celebrating Independence Day than this. And I want to also thank in particular three new citizens who have already served in the U.S. Army. Andre Lynch, Louis Daniel Santa, and Teofilo Diaz, our veteran- is a veteran of two tours in Iraq. So, gentlemen, thank you for keeping us safe.
"The land that you've been fighting for I think we can now say is your land, as well. This is a wonderful day for each of you, but not just for you I think. There's many other people in this city that have reasons to celebrate. Some of them are right here in the audience. They are your family and friends who have helped you get to where you are, bursting with pride. But I also think that it's every other American who should be thrilled that you have now joined us because unlike other places in the world, and particularly this is true of New York, we all are in this together.
"We live together, we work together, we go to restaurants together; we do things together in a very unique way. It's very different than the rest of the world and New York, in fact, is different than any other city in America. In New York, we live as a mixture, not as a mosaic. And while there are other places that have the diversity that we have if you measure where people come from or how many languages are spoken, what's different about New York is in any one block, you can have people from any place in the world who believe in any religion you can think of, who eat any kind of cuisine, dress in ways some people would never imagine somebody would dress, have customs that people never saw before. But in New York we don't find strangers threatening; we find strangers interesting. And whether we're friendly with them or not, we understand that we work together.
"We go down the same subway stairs, we get a cab at the same corner, we buy a newspaper at the same kiosk, our coffee from the same Starbucks. New York is a city of immigrants. It was started by immigrants; it continues to be built by immigrants. Our great future is an immigrant community and what's most important is that New York has remained a magnet to bring the immigrants here who will create the businesses of the future, who will add to our culture and our cuisine and our religion and our language and make New York a city that really is what the Great American Dream was all about. And people are celebrating here. You will see it if you go and look at a parade. I'm going to go to a parade on Saturday on Staten Island and Staten Island is a very diverse community. People come from all over the world and you look at the pride particularly of those who have come here more recently.
"They understand how lucky they are to be here. And I remember my grandfather on my father's side telling me just how lucky he felt to come here. He came here as child from someplace in Eastern Europe, we're not really sure where, and he kept telling us from different places. I don't think he even knew. And on my mother's side, my mother's patriotism - she's still alive, she was born in 1909 - and she'll tell you a story. In 1919 it must have been when she was 10 years old, she lived in Jersey City and she was sent by her family further away than she'd ever been allowed to go by herself to buy an American flag for Armistice Day. Everybody had to have their own flags on Armistice; it was a very patriotic time in this country. And I think the good news is we're starting to get back to a lot of that patriotism.
"Whether it's our grandparents or our great-grandparents or ourselves, virtually everyone is here from an immigrant community. We came to this strange land not knowing anybody here. Awful lot of people arrived worried and tired, probably seasick as well. They saw that statue in the harbor, or at least a picture of it and I'm going to be there on Saturday morning. They're opening the crown to tourists and there'll be a nice ceremony, but what really is unique is when you walk down the streets of New York and you realize that 40 percent of the people that you see will have been born outside of the United States.
"I'm going to, after this, go to a swearing in of a police class. I don't know what the diversity of that class is yet but the last class that I swore in had people who were born from 58 different countries being sworn in as police officers. That's why this city is safe, because we have the diversity that you need. And it's a great story.
"I cannot tell you our country is perfect. That's why you're here. You've got to help us become better and if we all work together we can. We don't have the kind of immigration laws that we should have. There are people in this country that don't understand the value of immigration. We need more immigrants, not less. We need to make our borders open, not closed.
"There are some that say that immigrants take away the jobs of Americans. Well I don't know that John Roebling took a job away from anybody. He was a German born designer and he built the Brooklyn Bridge. Andy Grove, I don't know that he took a job away from somebody. After fleeing Hungary against the uprising- at the time of the uprising against communism there, he went on to come here and found Intel Corporation which has employed tens of thousands of people and has become a great part of America. There is Alexander Hamilton who started this organization really. Caribbean born creator of our national financial system.
"You can go right down the list, you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody that either isn't first, second or third generation in this country and if you take a look at the people who really made contributions, you'd be shocked at how many of them were immigrants themselves. The great business formations taking place today are done by people who value the opportunities that America gives them. And sadly it is true, some of us get complacent with time and we forget just how lucky we are.
"We forget that we don't have freedoms of- that we have freedoms that they don't have overseas, that we have opportunity they don't have overseas. We tend sometimes, I think, to look at the part of the glass that's half empty rather than the glass that's half full. But immigrants don't. Immigrants know and it's your job to remind the rest of us, who've been here, just how lucky we all are.
"So I wanted to welcome all of you. You have, in the past, come here and built our stores and our businesses. Raised our children, forged our communities, built our subways, made us what we are today: the most international, diverse city and the greatest country in the world. It is a tradition, a proud tradition, that you inherit and I have every confidence that you will add to it. You've taken many different paths to get here today. The youngest of you is just 20 years old. The oldest- well, I won't tell you her age, but let me- she's probably younger than me. Let me extend a special felicitaciones to Mrs. Patrocinia Martinez. Where are you? Wherever you are, congratulations. Whether you were born in Palermo or- where are you? Whether you were born, seriously, in Palermo or Pakistan, Korea or Kilkenny, today you are Americans. Nothing anybody else can say. God bless."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958