HOUSTON -- Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, son and brother of immigrants and supervisor of one of the nation’s largest programs for identifying suspected illegal immigrants in jail, today praised and challenged more than 1,700 newly naturalized U.S. citizens at their oath-taking ceremony.
Garcia congratulated constituents from around the globe for coming to the U.S. legally and pursuing citizenship.
“Despite all the rhetoric, we know that this country got where it is today because of persons like yourselves, your families, your children, because they made this country their home,” he said.
“This nation welcomes you. This nation needs you,” he added. “With you becoming a part of this great country, you will add to the strength and fiber of what will continue to make us the greatest country in the world.”
The sheriff also challenged the immigrants and their families in the audience to promote American principles and exercise their new rights.
“Being an American citizen has tremendous power, but as it was said in the movie ‘Spiderman,' with great power comes great responsibility.” Garcia said. “A new journey begins for you now that you are officially American citizens. Your journey will require that you teach your children not to take this country for granted. Your journey will require that you exercise your right to vote. Your journey will require that you defend this country, that you speak from a first person point of view (to say) that if there is perfection in a society, it can most likely be found in this country.”
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison presided at the ceremony, which included the naturalization of at least five immigrants who have served or are serving in the U.S. military.
Garcia, born in Houston and raised there by industrious Mexican immigrants who eventually became U.S. citizens, is in charge of the Harris County Jail, where certified sheriff’s deputies working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents identify thousands of inmates as suspected illegal immigrants. They are referred to ICE for further immigration enforcement after their local criminal case is disposed.