Becoming American by choice

Many see the United States as a culture of cultures, where anyone from anywhere has the opportunity to succeed. What a noble legacy to uphold



January 4, 2023 - 4:30 PM

New U.S. citizens listen as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony on Oct. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia. A record number of immigrants are becoming American citizens. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

In the fiscal year that ended this September, people from around the world chose us. At some 970,000 naturalizations, it was the third highest year on record for immigrants becoming American citizens.

This is a testament to the staying power of the American idea of a culture of cultures, the story that anyone from anywhere can still have as much of a say as all others. This is, to some extent, a myth, more aspirational than a true mirror, but within every myth there’s a foundation of truth, and despite the imperfections this has kept being a country of immigrants.

These are a reason to celebrate, but they are not a reason to get complacent. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that a big part of this uptick is because naturalizations were essentially shut down due to COVID, and also led by immigrants reacting to the most vitriolic anti-immigrant rhetoric and official action in a century.

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