New citizens welcomed ahead of July 4, bringing focus to immigration

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 3, 2014) — Hundreds of people will attend a naturalization ceremony at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site on Thursday, one day before the nation celebrates Independence Day.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker will preside over the ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. and is expected to last about an hour.  Seating is available for 300 people.

Gov. Mike Pence told FOX59 News the event, which he plans to attend, reminds him of his grandfather’s journey from Ireland.

“Because of my grandfather’s courage and his willingness to travel a long distance to immigrate to this country, my family has been able to live the American dream,” the governor said.  “My hope and my prayer is that those who raise their right hand to become American citizens will be able to live that American dream as well.”

While Thursday’s naturalization ceremony is the epitome of the legal immigration for which most Americans profess a preference, illegal immigration remains a hotly debated and controversial issue.

Just this week, President Barack Obama made public statements indicating a desire to take executive action on the topic, rather than continuing to wait for legislation to arrive at his desk.

Pence, who served in Congress before his election as governor, explained the path he would like the country to embrace.

“A nation without borders is not a nation,” he said.  “I think it’s absolutely essential that we as a nation come together and make a commitment to real border security and border integrity.”

After securing the border, Pence said individuals not legally in the United States should not be granted amnesty.

Instead, he said the country should create what he called a coherent, modern guest worker program.

That debate aside, Thursday’s emphasis remains on the new citizens embarking on their journey as Americans and the American dream they will now be in a position to pursue.

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