By Jeremy Herb - 07/03/12 08:23 PM EDT
President Obama is ringing in the Fourth of July by hosting a naturalization ceremony for active-duty troops in the White House.
Obama will speak at the event, which is being held in the East Room, and will give the Outstanding American by Choice award, a recognition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for “naturalized citizens who have made significant contributions to both their community and their adopted country.”
Also attending the ceremony are U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who will give the oath of allegiance.
Later on Wednesday, the president and first lady Michelle Obama are hosting an Independence Day party on the South Lawn for military families, which features a concert as well as a prime viewing spot for the fireworks on the National Mall.
In 2010, Obama also spoke at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members, where he helped usher in two dozen new citizens from Ethiopia, China, Mexico and elsewhere.
At that ceremony, Obama talked about the difficulties that Washington has had enacting immigration reform and the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.
“Like so many others, these men and women met their responsibilities,” Obama said at the 2010 ceremony. “They played by the rules. They have earned their citizenship. And so on a day like this, we are also reminded of how we must remain both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. This includes fixing America’s broken immigration system.”