By Judge Phan Quang Tue
OAKLAND, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2012) — Judge Phan Quang Tue offered these remarks Wednesday at the Naturalization Ceremony at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, Calif.
Good Morning. Dear fellow American Citizens. It is an honor and a privilege for me to welcome you as citizens of the United States of America. I am grateful to be part of this very special moment.
By taking an oath of allegiance this morning to the United States of America, you no longer hold political ties with your former country of citizenship. But although this nation demands your allegiance, she does not require you to abandon your native culture. On the contrary, by bringing with you, and by preserving your own history and culture, you will make America stronger and richer.
All of you came from somewhere. All of you have been citizens from some other place on this planet. All of you have had a city, a town, a village you called home. You all have had your own sky to cherish, friends and relatives to love, a flag to salute, an anthem to sing. You should always treasure those ties and memories and pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Becoming American does not require you to stop being yourself. For the oath all of you took this morning made you American, not by blood, not by soil, but by your own free will. You are Americans by faith.
You and I share the same journey. Like you, I am not a native born American. I once arrived on this land as a refugee. Thirty seven years ago, I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. It was a beautiful, sunny, morning like today. It was the beginning of a long journey, full of uncertainty and challenge, but also of excitement.
Our path took us, a family with an expecting wife and two small children, across this land, from the East Coast, to the golden plains of the Midwest, to the Redwood forests of the West Coast. I have been a dishwasher, a shoe repairer, a newspaper delivery man, a high school French teacher, a law clerk, a lawyer, and I am now today a Judge standing before you. Also standing among you this morning is my daughter-in-law, Naomi, who came to this country at the age of two.
Like you all, Naomi is now a United States citizen. My family’s story simply underscores that this land is a land of opportunities, where the opportunities are limited only by your imagination. Successive waves of immigrants have continuously renewed and enriched the American Dream.
The Constitution of the United States of America opens in its Preamble: “We, the People of the United States. “ With only these three words, the preamble emphasizes that the nation is not to be ruled by a king, or a dictator, but governed by the people. They encapsulate the concept of the government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French politician and state man, once observed: “If there be a country in the world where the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people can be fairly appreciated …that country is assuredly America.” His predictions turned out to be accurate all along the history of America. America’s greatness is in its democracy.
The United States will hold their general elections this coming November. In addition to the presidential elections, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate are contested along with 13 state and territorial governorships, and numerous state and local races. There are debates all over the country on all issues of common interest. As many as 100 million Americans are expected to vote on Election Day. There is no repression, chaos, or bloodshed. The United States of America, once again, is showing the world its democracy in action. Consider the current chaos and turmoil around the world at this very moment. This is a testament that democracy, albeit imperfect, of all political systems, is the best and it is alive and well in America.
As citizens, you are asked to protect, preserve, and strengthen this great democracy. You are asked to be fully participating in the life of the nation, to register to vote, to serve as jurors, to pay taxes, to shoulder civic leadership.
You will join several generations of Americans before you in continuing to write the next chapter in the history of this great Republic “in order to form a more perfect Union”, and towards achieving Freedom and Equality for all.
Welcome to America, your now new home!
Immigration Judge Phan-Quang Tue was appointed as an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), San Francisco Immigration Court in March 1995. Judge Tue graduated from the Saigon University School of Law in 1965, and received a juris doctorate in 1985 from Drake University School of Law. From 1993 to 1995, he worked as an administrative law judge/board author for the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in San Francisco.
From 1988 to 1993, Judge Tue served as a trial attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, Office of the District Counsel, in San Francisco. From 1987 to 1988, he worked as an assistant attorney general for the Office of the Attorney General in Des Moines, Iowa. From 1984 to 1987, Judge Tue served as a hearing officer in the bureau of appeals for the Iowa Department of Employment Services, also in Des Moines. He is a member of the Iowa Bar.