How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

But while the 1790 naturalization law established a framework for becoming a citizen, it didn’t implement a standard oath for the country, leaving the naturalization process varied from state to state for more than 100 years.

With no uniform process in place, a presidential commission was created in 1905 to study how to reform the country’s naturalization process.

“Due to the high number of immigrants from all different locations spreading through all over and across the U.S., by then there was as many as 5,000 courts with naturalization jurisdiction, and each of these courts had developed its own processes for administering the oath,” Wang says.

Many of the commission’s recommendations were included in the Basic Naturalization Act of 1906, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While the recommendations still didn’t lead to a standardized oath, at this point the decision was made to include language about defending “the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” according to the USCIS website.

It wasn’t until 1929 that the oath’s text was standardized. For much of the next two decades, the oath stayed the same. But with the U.S. facing a growing threat from the Soviet Union, the oath was amended in 1952 to emphasize service to country.

“There was an intent to make it more explicit that in becoming a citizen of the United States that you are also explicitly going to take action in defending this country when asked to,” Wang says.

The three major changes, Wang says, included, “adding [a part] around bearing arms on behalf of the United States when required … performing noncombatant services in the armed forces when required, and then the final one was added around performing work of national importance under civilian direction.”

These changes still exist in the oath used today.

“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.”

Wang has gone to many naturalization ceremonies and has heard the oath recited many times, including by his own parents. No matter how often he hears those 140 words, he says, they still have emotional significance to him.

“Words matter, and when you hear people say this, each of them are doing what my parents did, which is actually give up part of their identity,” he says. “Something that they grew up with. Something that their family is.”

As people take the oath, they are often embracing a new identity and completing a journey that has lasted years and possibly even decades, Wang says.

“It truly is something that matters deeply to each and every one of the individuals that say it,” he says. “So when you see the tears on their faces, you can’t help but feel them welling up in your own.”

Source: How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

C-99 New Citizenship Oath: Dead on the Order Paper

Did seem a tad cynical to introduce this bill so close to the election, not to mention my concerns regarding the proposed expanded wording (Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights):

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s (York South-Weston, Ont.) bill to change the citizenship oath is also poised to die on the Order Paper when Parliament is dissolved for the upcoming election, at some point this summer.

The bill would have changed the oath taken by new Canadians during their citizenship ceremony, to recognize that the Constitution “recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Mr. Hussen introduced Bill C-99 in the House on May 28. It was never debated.

PCO looks to add Indigenous treaties into citizenship oath

Hardly news – mentioned in Minister Hussen’s mandate letter more than a year ago.

Will, however, be interesting to see what “the very near future” means in terms of legislation actually means and whether it is stand-alone legislation or combined with other unannounced changes:

The federal government is looking at adding a commitment to Indigenous treaties in the oath that new Canadians take.

A spokesperson for immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said that while no official decision has been made, legislation to change the oath’s wording will be brought forward in “the very near future.”

The last sentence of the oath currently reads: “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.” A possible new wording would oblige new Canadians to say “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The idea of additional language in the oath of citizenship was included in poll questions by Forum Research Inc. The firm conducts regular surveys for the Privy Council Office.

Just under half – 49 per cent – of Canadians polled said they agreed with the proposed change. Twenty two per cent were on the fence, while 26 per cent were opposed.

The polling used a mixed sample of landline and cellphone responses. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percentage points and a confidence level of 19 times out of 20.

Respondents only supported the change with a caveat that newcomers be adequately educated about Indigenous peoples and treaties to ensure they don’t struggle with the new wording, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian Press also obtained notes that showed the government intends to modify the script for those presiding over citizenship ceremonies. The changes would refer to “ceremonies on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous people.”

If implemented, the change would put into practice one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

Capping off the list at No. 94, the call to action in question proposes the government make the exact change to the citizenship oath’s wording that was considered in the polling.

Hussen’s mandate letter includes an order to add the acknowledgement of Indigenous treaties to the oath.

A spokesperson for Hussen also asserted the government’s commitment to make changes to the citizenship guide and to the oath of citizenship to reflect Indigenous treaties.

This isn’t the first change to the existing citizenship processes to cross Hussen’s desk. Last fall, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel sponsored a petition to “ensure that the final draft of the new citizenship guide includes the condemnation of female genital mutilation.” The petition has over 25,000 signatures.

In late January, the government committed to including a warning about FGM in the citizenship guide.

There is no word yet on the exact timeline for potential changes to the citizenship oath, although Hussen’s spokesperson said legislation will be introduced in “the very near future.”

Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people: Consultations

Good account of the results of the consultations:

A revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous people is nearly complete.

The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials.

The language comes from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of Canada’s residential schools.

Implementing that recommendation was one of the tasks given to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his portfolio in January 2017, but work on it began soon after the commission delivered its recommendations in late 2015, briefing notes for the minister suggest.

Focus groups mixed on proposed changes

The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government also wants to modify the script delivered by those who preside over citizenship ceremonies. The proposed notes say the script should refer to ceremonies on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous people.

When it comes to the oath, the inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change.

Changing the wording requires a legislative amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Liberals are in the process of overhauling the act in a bid to make citizenship easier to obtain.

When the proposed text was put to focus groups composed of both recent immigrants and longtime Canadian residents, reaction was generally positive, according to a report posted online by the Immigration Department this week.

But there was a caveat: “Participants only agreed with the modifications insofar as newcomers are adequately educated about Indigenous Peoples and the treaties,” the report said.

“Many felt that they themselves would struggle with this new formulation, given their own limited knowledge of the treaties.”

Some wondered about the need for changes at all.

“A few participants took it upon themselves to question the need to modify the oath and that it might represent a precedent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be represented in the oath,” the report said.

The new oath comes along with a major overhaul of the study guide used for the citizenship exam. A draft copy obtained by The Canadian Press earlier this year revealed it, too, will include extensive references to Indigenous history and culture.

The Liberals had originally been aiming to unveil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is ongoing.

It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Source: Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people – Politics – CBC News

New Canadians to pledge honour for Indigenous treaties in revised citizenship oath – Politics – CBC News

The first change to the oath since 1977:

New Canadians will soon promise to honour treaties with Indigenous peoples as part of their oath of citizenship.

The mandate letter for new Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen lists making the change to the swearing-in ceremony as one of his key priorities, along with enhancing refugee resettlement services and cutting wait times for application processing.

According to the mandate letter, the proposed change is to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

That reads: “We call upon the government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including treaties with Indigenous peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”The current oath does not include the words “including treaties with Indigenous peoples.”

The call for action was among 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December 2015.

Call to revise citizenship test

Another recommendation called on the federal government, in collaboration with national Indigenous organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and the citizenship test to “reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada.”

That would include information about the treaties and the history of residential schools, according to the document.

Lorna Standingready - RTR4YPUL3

Residential school survivor Lorna Standingready, left, is comforted during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada closing ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

This past December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of an independent national council to help implement the recommendations.

Source: New Canadians to pledge honour for Indigenous treaties in revised citizenship oath – Politics – CBC News

The specific commitments of Minister Hussen’s mandate letter are (the emphasis on measuring outcomes for settlement services and “rigorous approach to data” is also of note):

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

  • Ensure the effective implementation of Canada’s increased annual immigration levels.

  • Working with the provinces and territories, ensure a renewed focus on the delivery of high-quality settlement services to ensure the successful arrival of new Canadians.  This will require a rigorous approach to data in order to accurately measure outcomes.

  • Following our government-wide efforts to resettle more than 39,000 Syrian refugees as of January 2017, continue to welcome refugees from Syria and elsewhere, and work with provinces and territories, service provider organizations, and communities to ensure refugees are integrating successfully into Canada to become participating members of society.

  • Work on reducing application processing times, on improving the department’s service delivery and client services to make it timelier and less complicated, and on enhancing system efficiency including the asylum system.

  • Continue to work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness towards the adoption of Bill C-6 which would repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.

  • Conduct a review of the visa policy framework, including its application to the transit of passengers through Canada, in a way that promotes economic growth while ensuring program integrity.

  • Work in collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to make changes to the Oath of Canadian Citizenship to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action.

  • Work with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to improve the temporary foreign worker program so it meets the needs of Canadian workers and employers.  This would include:

    • further developing a pathway to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society; and

    • working with stakeholders to act on the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities’ study of the temporary foreign worker program.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments.

Denouncing Queen invalidates citizenship oath

Some still think we are a British colony, unaware of the Statute of Westminster and the repatriation of the Constitution?

In hearing that Srabon Salim was able to send a letter not acknowledging the Queen minutes after the Oath of Citizenship is not Canadian. As such it breaks the contract between that person and Canada therefore rebuking their citizenship.

Whether people like it or not we are a British colony.

If you are able to make a promise when you know that you are going to dismiss the promise immediately after, is that not the same as lying under oath? If people were to do that in a court room would it not make all of our testimonies potentially false?

There is also another part of the Oath that says “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

If people are able to break the oath would they not be able to then say they don’t recognize Canadian laws and follow their own laws or the laws of the country they came from.

If someone does not want to observe our Queen why would they choose to live here? It is of my opinion that as long as we are a British colony, and if someone says in an Oath; “be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty” they should not be able to denounce it, or as said before the contract is broken and they are no longer a Citizen of Canada.

Source: Denouncing Queen invalidates citizenship oath

New Canadians continue fight to disavow citizenship oath to Queen

Small number – about 30.

While I am not a fan of the current oath (Australia did away with its oath to the Queen in 1994), I do not believe that individual disavowal, rather than advocating for a new oath, is the more appropriate approach. And it does suggest contempt for our history and institutions.

It is possible that at some time, the current government may decide to revisit the oath, as the Chretien government considered doing almost 20 years ago:

Emboldened by comments from Ontario’s highest court, a tiny but determined group of new, and not-so-new, Canadians have been publicly disavowing the oath to the Queen they were forced to take to become citizens.

Some are making the required pledge, then formally renouncing it as soon as their citizenship ceremonies are over. Others have waited decades to declare their anti-monarchist views.

“It is pretty hard for me to consciously swear to be faithful and to bear true allegiance to someone who has inherited her privileges and without having to prove any other merit than the fact to be the ‘child of’,” said Eric Dumonteil, a French national who became a citizen last week.

“How could I rationally swear the same thing to her heirs and successors? Signing a blank cheque to some people that don’t exist yet? Not for me.”

Dumonteil, 31, of Montreal, who came to Canada five years ago, handed a letter stating his position on the oath to the citizenship judge and clerk following his ceremony.

In 2014, an Israeli national, Dror Bar-Natan, along with a Jamaican woman and Irishman, lost a battle to have the courts strike down as discriminatory the requirement for would-be citizens to swear to be “faithful and bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors.”

However, in refusing to nix the requirement, the Ontario Court of Appeal noted the trio had the opportunity to “publicly disavow what they consider to be the message conveyed by the oath” as well as the ability to “freely express their dissenting views as to the desirability of a republican government.” The matter died legally last year when the Supreme Court refused to weigh in.

Leaning on the Appeal Court comments, Bar-Natan, who called the oath tantamount to a “hazing” ritual, recanted his oath orally and in a letter to the judge moments after becoming a citizen in November. He also set up a website (www.disavowal.ca) to allow others to make their disavowal views known. To date, about 30 people have done so.

Source: New Canadians continue fight to disavow citizenship oath to Queen – Macleans.ca

Don’t want to pledge allegiance to the Queen? Seek comfort elsewhere: Macleans editorial

More commentary on the recanting of the reference to the Monarchy in the citizenship oath:

It would be easier to be annoyed with Bar-Natan’s hypocrisy if he was less effusive in his praise for his new homeland. “I’m definitely proud to be a Canadian,” he told the Canadian Press after the ceremony. “It’s a wonderful country, a truly wonderful country, with one small iota that I disagree with.” That said, Canada is not an à la carte proposition in which new citizens should be encouraged to sign up for the bits they like and ignore the rest. Anyone who finds the totality of Canadian democracy repulsive is welcome to seek comfort elsewhere. Perhaps in time Bar-Natan will come to realize the bothersome oath to Queen Elizabeth the Second that irks him is actually an essential component of Canada’s remarkable tradition of freedom, tolerance and diversity.

When Britain took control of Quebec following the 1759 Conquest, Canada’s “citizens”—the 70,000 or so habitants who suddenly found themselves British subjects—were initially required to take an anti-Catholic “Test Act” oath to vote or hold public office. Concern for the rights of his French-speaking, Catholic citizenry led Quebec governor Guy Carleton to replace this offensive religious obligation in 1774 with a uniquely Canadian compromise: a secular oath pledging allegiance instead to the Crown. This early expression of Canadian constitutionalism allowed the Canadiens to participate fully in society and guaranteed their freedom of religion.

Today’s oath is a direct descendant of Carleton’s innovation. It is a deliberate effort to mould an inclusive society out of diverse parts—and the very reason Bar-Natan can become a Canadian while at the same time expressing dissent, however sanctimoniously. We should be celebrating this remarkable history of toleration, not disavowing it.

Source: Don’t want to pledge allegiance to the Queen? Seek comfort elsewhere

New Canadian renounces oath to the Queen, pledges ‘true’ loyalty only to Canada – Toronto – CBC News

Further to my earlier post (Man set to recant oath to the Queen right after #citizenship ceremony). He did make his allegiance to Canada clear, limiting the issue to the Monarchy.

Highly unlikely that changing the oath will be a priority for the government given so much else on their agenda, including changes to the Citizenship Act:

At a citizenship ceremony in east Toronto, Bar-Natan first swore the oath along with some 80 others and then, while being handed his citizenship certificate, informed the citizenship judge of his intent to disavow the portion of the oath pledging allegiance to the Queen.

He formally recanted that part of the oath following the ceremony and handed the judge a letter explaining his decision.

“I wish to affirm my allegiance, my true allegiance to Canada and the people of Canada, but also to disavow the royalty part and only the royalty part of the citizenship oath,” Bar-Natan told the judge as others looked on.

“I hear you sir. And I thank you for your honesty,” said citizenship judge Albert Wong, who shook Bar-Natan’s hand. “I welcome you to Canada and I look forward to the contributions you will make.”

Bar-Natan later said he had felt “somewhat humiliated” at having to say the oath at all, despite being able to disavow the part of it he disagreed with later.

“I do feel that it is comparable to hazing, the fact that you are required to stand up and express views that are opposite to yours,” he said. “I don’t think it is a part of Canada to impose political speech on others. To impose opinions on others.”

Bar-Natan added that a website he has set up — disavowal.ca — will allow other Canadians to publicly disavow their pledge to the Queen, regardless of when they took their oath.

Bar-Natan’s controversial decision sparked some strong reactions on social media.

“Strip him of citizenship the moment he disavows the oath. If he doesn’t want to keep the oath, he shouldn’t be made a Canadian,” tweeted one person.

“Why do people come here if they have no intention of following the basic requirements,” said another.

Bar-Natan’s lawyer said he hoped his client’s actions would draw the new Liberal government’s attention to re-evaluating the wording of the citizenship oath that deals with the monarchy.

“He underlined how silly it is to require somebody to say it,” said Peter Rosenthal. “I hope that will contribute to the public debate about this and the present Liberal government will do what the Chretien government almost did in 1994.”

In the 1990s, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien was set to scrap the oath to the Queen but got cold feet at the last minute, then-citizenship minister Sergio Marchi has told The Canadian Press.

Source: New Canadian renounces oath to the Queen, pledges ‘true’ loyalty only to Canada – Toronto – CBC News

Man set to recant oath to the Queen right after #citizenship ceremony

While I am no fan of the current citizenship oath and its reference to the Queen (even if the reference refers more to the institution of the Crown, rather than the Queen personally), I find these kinds of cases silly.

The proper way to change the oath is not through the courts but rather through Parliament.

And it does beg the question, whether recanting should be viewed as renouncing citizenship?

A soon-to-be Canadian has served notice that he plans to recant the mandatory Oath of Allegiance to the Queen immediately after he becomes a citizen.

In a letter sent to the citizenship court judge earlier this month, Dror Bar-Natan states his opposition to the oath, which he calls “repulsive,” and his plan to renege on the pledge following his citizenship ceremony on Monday.

The Queen is a symbol of entrenched and outdated privilege and the pledge is tantamount to a “hazing” ritual, Bar-Natan said in an interview.

“To become a Canadian citizen, I am made to utter phrases which are silly and ridiculous and offensive,” he said. “I don’t want to be there.”

Bar-Natan, 49, a math professor from Israel who has been in Canada for 13 years, was one of three longtime permanent residents who challenged the constitutionality of making citizenship conditional on promising to be “faithful and bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors.”

In upholding the requirement, Ontario’s top court said the Queen remains Canada’s head of state and the oath was a “symbolic commitment to be governed as a democratic constitutional monarchy unless and until democratically changed.”

The court also found that all citizens have the right to espouse anti-monarchist views and new Canadians could “publicly disavow what they consider to be the message conveyed by the oath.”

Source: Man set to recant oath to the Queen right after citizenship ceremony – Macleans.ca