Posted on September 17, 2003
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander today marked Citizenship Day by introducing a bill on the Senate floor to make the current Oath of Allegiance, which immigrants take to become U.S. citizens, law. "I am introducing legislation to make the current Oath of Allegiance the law of the land," Alexander said. "Doing so will give the Oath of Allegiance the same status enjoyed by other key symbols and statements of being American: the American Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and our National Motto. "All these symbols and statements have been specifically approved by Congress and are now a matter of law. The Oath of Allegiance ought to be treated with the same dignity." In the first five months of this fiscal year, close to 167,000 immigrants took the oath and were naturalized as citizens of this country. The oath assumed its present form in the 1950's and was first adopted in federal regulation in 1929. Some of the language dates all the way back to 1790. "It is quite an oath," Alexander said. "It has strength. It has clarity. Sounds like it might have been written by some rowdy patriots in Philadelphia or Williamsburg. "Surprisingly, Congress has never voted on the content of this oath. We have left it to federal regulators. It's time to protect it." Alexander became concerned about the oath's integrity after reports that The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, or BCIS, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, was planning to make changes to it. There are currently 29 co-sponsors of the legislation.