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resolution to be presented to the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges calling attention to the Congressional resolution and urging all Federal judges to do whatever they can to carry out its purpose; a request for consideration of the subject by each judicial circuit conference; a suggestion that the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts designate a member of his staff to maintain a depository of information and to answer questions; and a request that information be collected from district judges concerning methods of cooperation and ceremonial procedures that they have used.
Following the receipt of a favorable reply from Chief Justice Stone, Justice Miller wrote to many United State district judges in different parts of the country, asking them for information regarding the procedures and practices in their naturalization courts and for suggestions. The replies received were generally in favor of the suggestion, approved by the Chief Justice, “to emphasize the dignity and solemnity of the procedure for naturalizing our new citizens." In addition, many valuable suggestions were furnished for improving citizenship induction. The data in these letters were reinforced and supplemented by the New Citizens Day File of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which contains many reports on naturalization proceedings throughout the country.
In some instances, both letters and file revealed notable improvement in citizenship ceremonies; in other instances, they disclosed a real need for improvement. Most heartening was the genuine desire many judges expressed in their letters on the subject to achieve the purpose the joint resolution of dignifying and emphasizing the significance of citizenship.
At the request of the Chief Justice, the subject of more impressive procedures for admission to United States citizenship through naturalization was put on the agenda for consideration by the Conference of Senior Circuit Judges in their Judicial Conference, September Session 1942. In his address to the Conference, the Honorable Francis Biddle, Attorney General of the United States, “stressed the importance of conducting proceedings in naturalization cases in a more dignified manner than is generally the case at
present, and urged that all district courts should regularly entertain petitions for naturalization.” 6
The action taken by the Senior Judges is described in the following excerpt from a report of the Conference:
Naturalization Proceedings: The conference thought it desirable that the dignity and importance of admission to United States citizenship through naturalization should be stressed in all naturalization proceedings. It therefore adopted the following resolution:
“That all Federal judges be requested to aid in whatever manner possible in carrying out the joint resolution of Congress of May 3, 1940, 54 Stat. 178, and in enhancing the dignity of all stages of the naturalization proceedings.”?
The 1952 resolution quoted previously changed the day of the commemoration of United States citizenship to September 17 of each
year, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States, and designated such date as Citizenship Day.
* Report of The Judicial Conference, September Session 1942, p. 3. ' Ibid, p. 15.
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SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CEREMONY
acceptance of responsibilities have been occasions for solemn ceremonies. Among the American Indians the young men who had proved their skills and abilities were, in a ceremony of great dignity,
a admitted to the status of the brave” with the privilege of sharing in the responsibilities of the council of the tribe. Churches, and fraternal, social, and other organizations initiate their new members with a ceremony which is intended to convey an understanding of the meaning and significance of the pledges that are given and the vows that are taken. High school and university authorities maintain the ceremonial of commencement. They are conscious of the emotional tides that influence most people, and they recognize that the commencement ceremonial creates a state of elation that holds great possibilities. The acquisition of citizenship is also a commencement. It is the beginning of a journey that vitally affects the life of the new citizen.
Therefore, it is logical to have an impressive ceremony for induction into the finest fraternity known to man—that of United States citizenship. The time when the alien completes his course in citizenship and stands before other American citizens, qualified and willing to become one of them and ready to shoulder his responsibility in the conduct of government, should be made impressive as a reminder to him of the sanctity of the obligation that he is assuming.
The courtroom ceremonial becomes the climax or the peak of the process of naturalization. Years of preparation spent in acquiring the qualifications of citizenship lie behind the ceremonial. In traveling this long road the prospective citizen should acquire something more than the routine answers to certain questions regarding the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, or the history of the United States. Such answers may enable the petitioner to “pass” the examination and get his certificate of naturalization, but he can play the role of a good citizen of the United States only if during those years he has learned, and experienced, something of the spirit of this country. From the date of his entry into the United States to the time when the court bestows upon him citizenship, the most precious gift that this country has to offer, a continuing responsibility rests upon those who guide him along the path to citizenship to instill in him, by word and by example, the spirit of this land.
The courtroom ceremonial can and should be a gripping scene featuring the alien's entrance into the fraternity of citizenship. The last act of his life as an alien and the first act of his life as a citizen of the United States should be performed in such a manner as to stamp them in his memory as among the most stirring and unforgetable experiences of his life. Recognition should be given to the fact that impressions received at this time carry great and continuing possibilities for good or ill, as the time of the final court hearing offers an occasion when the alien is emotionally receptive and especially susceptible to serious and solemn reflections concerning the responsibilities of citizenship.
United States citizenship is a glorious possession representing the dreams and the struggles of men for centuries. Our charter of human liberty—the Bill of Rights—was obtained at a high price. Voice in our Government, freedom in our worship, freedom in our business—all the freedoms of human aspiration—did not come into being by accident. They were achieved only after generations of struggle, suffering, and sacrifice. Victims of terror, torture, and oppression made their contributions in the distant past. Men from dark dungeons, martyrs swinging from gallows, human torches lit by the flames of intolerance, victims of the Inquisition, patriots who suffered and died at Valley Forge and on other battlefields of freedom, and many others who made the supreme sacrifice while seeking human rights, have all played their part in the framing of our Charter of Liberty.
The courtroom ceremonial can stimulate in the new citizen a genuine enthusiasm for the democratic processes and his opportunities in this country. We of the United States are constantly striving to expand liberty and freedom, while many of the new