2008-02-27 / Editorials

Welcome New Citizens To Their Adopted Country

Last Friday, February 22 (allowing for adjusting to the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendars, which took place in his lifetime), was the birthday of the man known to many as the Father of the United States, George Washington. Washington married a widow, Martha Custis and raised her two children, John Parke ("Jacky") and Martha ("Patsy") Custis. Two of Jacky Custis' children were raised by the Washingtons after Custis' death. Washington might not have had biological children, but he was extensively familiar with the legal, psychological and physical concept of the adoption process as it then was known. We think it would have pleased Washington very much to know that on the day celebrated as his birthday, some 200 individuals gathered at Queensborough Community College to take the oath of citizenship and become American citizens by adoption.

However the adoption process took place in Washington's day, today when a child is adopted, the court supervising the process issues a new birth certificate. It lists the names of the adoptive parents and that of the child that has now become officially, legally theirs. As far as the court, the state and the country are concerned, from the day of the proceedings forward, the child begins a new life with a new name and a new family. So it is with the newest Americans. In swearing allegiance to the United States, they relinquish all ties of fealty to their former country and are considered full-fledged Americans.

The major difference between adults becoming naturalized citizens and children being adopted is that in most cases, children have very little say in the process. Adults are in charge of and responsible for their own actions. Those adults who became citizens of the United States last Friday further demonstrated their worthiness to take on the responsibilities of citizenship by playing by the rules. They entered this country legally, scrupulously obeyed all its laws and fulfilled all the stated requirements for becoming Americans by choice. We do not think we are overly optimistic in saying that these new citizens of their adopted country will continue to obey its laws and regulations, and will do so by conscious choice.

This is not the time or place to discuss the circumstances and ramifications of illegal immigration into the United States. We grant that entering America legally requires some effort. We note, however, that those individuals entering this country illegally also made a choice. If they choose to disregard the laws of this country, they give up their right to protest when those laws are enforced.

We welcome our new brothers and sisters who joined our national family last Friday. May they live lives that demonstrate their worthiness to be here and may we, their fellow citizens, continue to make this country a beacon for those who wish to shake off their links to the old world and join us as Americans in the new.

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