Frist Praises Alexander's Citizenship Amendment

Bemoans Democrat Effort to Block Vote

Posted on March 31, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), speaking on the Senate floor today, praised U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) amendment to the immigration reform bill and bemoaned Democrat efforts to prevent a vote. The amendment, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Frist, is based on Alexander’s Strengthening American Citizenship Act which encourages legal immigrants who are prospective citizens to become American by learning English, American history and our way of government. “Last night Senator Alexander offered his widely supported Strengthening American Citizenship Act, a beautiful amendment, I think, and a very important amendment,” Sen. First said. “It’s reasonable. It’s common sense. It’s patriotic. It would help newly arrived immigrants learn their responsibilities and assimilate the habits and privileges of American citizenship. “Unfortunately, however, the other side objected to allowing a vote on the amendment,” he added. Alexander’s amendment: · Helps and encourages prospective citizens to learn English by providing grants of up to $500 for English language courses to legal immigrants who declare their intent to become American citizens; and allowing citizenship applicants who speak fluent English to meet the residency requirement after four years of living in the U.S. rather than five; · Helps and encourages prospective citizens learn more about the American way of life by establishing a foundation to support the activities of the Office of Citizenship within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and providing grants for organizations to offer civics, history and English courses; · Codifies the Oath of Allegiance, which today is written only in federal regulations, but not in law, thereby giving it the same standing as the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and; · Celebrates new citizens by instructing the DHS to develop and implement a strategy to raise public awareness of naturalization ceremonies; and establishing an award for citizens that have been naturalized within the last ten years and made outstanding contributions to our nation. “Our country’s greatest accomplishment is based upon the principle that we have united people from many backgrounds into one nation, based upon our belief in a few ideas rather than upon race, ancestry or background,” Alexander said. “Of all the principles that we will be debating these next two weeks, none is more important than the one we have chosen as our national motto. It is carved in stone above the presiding officer’s desk in the Senate chamber: E Pluribus Unum, one from many.” Strengthening American Citizenship Act, S. 1815 ___________________________________________ 1. Helping Prospective Citizens Learn English · Provides education grants up to $500 for English courses to legal immigrants who declare intent to become an American citizen. · Allows citizenship applicants who speak fluent English to meet the residency requirement after four years of living in the United States rather than five. 2. Helping Prospective Citizens Learn More about the American Way of Life · Establishes a foundation to support the activities of the Office of Citizenship (within the Department of Homeland Security). · Provides for grants to organizations to provide civics, history, and English courses. 3. Codifying the Oath of Allegiance · Codifies the language of the Oath of Allegiance – based on language from Alexander-Schumer bill (S. 1087). 4. Celebrating New Citizens · Establishes an award for citizens that have been naturalized within the last ten years and made an outstanding contribution to the American nation. · Instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and implement a strategy to raise public awareness of naturalization ceremonies.