Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States

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Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States


By: U.S. Congress

Date: 1952

Source: U.S. Congress. "Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States."

About the Author: The U.S. Congress is responsible, according to the Constitution, for establishing a uniform rule of naturalization.


Naturalization is the process of acquiring the nationality of a country. As a nation built on immigration, the United States has struggled more with naturalization than any other country in the world.

The problem of naturalization was one of the first ones addressed by the new nation. The framers of the Constitution gave Congress the responsibility for determining citizenship and, in 1790, Congress established rules for naturalization. The law, reformed several times in the next few years, provided that aliens who had resided in the United States for a period of time could be naturalized along with their children. Only aliens of European and African descent were eligible for citizenship, blocking those with any Asian blood from pursuing naturalization. The ban on Asian citizenship was later upheld by the Supreme Court in several cases that denied naturalization to those of Japanese, Korean, Indian, Afghanistan, and Filipino descent. The Court ruled that Mexicans and Arabs were white persons and thus, eligible for citizenship.

To help straighten out the confusion surrounding immigration laws and improve foreign relations with Asian countries, President Theodore Roosevelt proposed a revision of the immigration laws in 1905. The revision required only that an alien be literate in a language and that he intend to reside permanently in the United States. This legislation has remained the foundation of naturalization policy.


Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."


Historically, immigrants are more likely to naturalize the longer that they have lived in the United States. Among the foreign-born population in 2000, 80.4 percent of those who had entered the country before 1970 were citizens. Only 8.9 percent of those who had entered after 1990 had been naturalized. Overall, the percentage of foreign-born residents who are American citizens has declined steadily since 1970. The drop is attributed to several factors including a flood of new immigrants who have not been residents long enough to qualify for citizenship and the rise in migrant workers who tend to return home. Additionally, the United States admits a great number of nonimmigrants such as students and temporary workers, who are not eligible to naturalize.

However, the number of naturalization applications has skyrocketed in response to political threats to deny public benefits to immigrants. The success of Proposition 187 in California, federal immigration and welfare reforms in 1996, and laws that increased the threat of deportation for criminal aliens pushed many immigrants to safeguard their rights by naturalizing. Adding to the push, ethnic advocacy groups have been encouraging immigrants to naturalize by helping them with the process. The ongoing threat of immigration reform is likely to continue to encourage immigrants to naturalize.



Gardner, Martha. The Qualities of a Citizen: Women, Immigration, and Citizenship, 1870–1965. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Gimpel, James G., and James R. Edwards, Jr. The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform. Needham Heights, Mass: Allyn and Bacon, 1999.

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Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States

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