Eric Holder Speaks At Naturalization Ceremony At Justice Department (Getty Images)

Attorney General Holder, son of immigrants, pushes immigration reform at ceremony

It was a special naturalization ceremony for the immigrants who became new U.S. citizens today. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered the keynote remarks at the  Justice Department Building Swearing-in Ceremony.  During the special naturalization ceremony, Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas administered the Oath of Citizenship to approximately 70 new U.S. citizens.

Attorney General Holder recalled growing up in a New York neighborhood “populated largely by immigrants,” in a family which came from Barbados.

“Like millions of immigrants who came before them – including my father and grandparents, who came to this country many years ago from Barbados – these new citizens have demonstrated remarkable faith in the principles of equality, opportunity and justice that have always stood at the core of our identity as a nation,” said Attorney General Holder.

In his address, Holder pointed out the diversity of the new citizens sitting in the audience, from a World Bank senior adviser to doctors to community outreach directors. But he  also used the speech to reiterate the Obama Administration’s call for immigration reform.

RELATED: 5 things to know about where immigration reform is right now 

“As President Obama has made clear, the time for comprehensive, common-sense immigration reform is now. And the way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented — and the steps we take to allow an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows — transcends the issue of immigration status,” Holder said.

Holder, who has come under fire recently for the Justice Department’s decision to subpoena the phone records of the Associated Press, also used the speech to talk about the Justice Department’s ideals of protecting vulnerable members of society and civil rights protections.

“These ideals guide our work to eradicate racial and ethnic discrimination, to fairly adjudicate immigration cases, and to hold accountable employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers or engage in discriminatory practices,” he said.

The new citizens hailed from 34 countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and El Salvador.

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