Michelle Obama, appearing at naturalization ceremony, calls for immigration reform

Michelle Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson presided at a naturalization ceremony Wednesday for 50 new citizens.
By Frances Burns  |  Updated June 18, 2014 at 3:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Michelle Obama said the United States is "still very much a nation of immigrants," and called for reform as she welcomed 50 new citizens Wednesday.

Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who administered the oath of citizenship, presided at a ceremony at the National Archives. Joanne Ferreira, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the 50 new citizens were selected at random from candidates living in the Washington area and are from 44 countries.

The first lady said that there is near-universal agreement the immigration system is broken -- but still debate on whether to fix it. She said her husband has that as a primary goal.

"He refuses to give up the fight, because at the end of the day this fight isn't about abstract principles; it's about real people," Obama said. "People like you. People like us. Our fellow Americans."

Immigration reform appears unlikely to pass Congress, especially given the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

The first lady suggested that the United States should welcome newcomers.

"Immigration is at the heart of how we developed as a nation," she said. "We still, very much, are a nation of immigrants."

About 600,000 to 700,000 people become naturalized U.S. citizens every year. Millions of people are believed to be living in the country illegally.

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