Nearly 50 immigrants from 23 countries will become U.S. citizens in a ceremony Friday at Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. The ceremony is possible through an agreement between the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Park Service.
"There have been a number of them at Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty...and of course national parks are so American, and they're public land, so they belong to all American citizens," says Mammoth Cave Public Information Officer Vickie Carson.
The ceremony will take place inside a cave and feature remarks from Mammoth Cave's deputy superintendent Bruce Powell, a naturalized citizen himself. Mammoth Cave last hosted a citizenship ceremony in 2011.
Kentuckians concerned with agriculture, business and education spoke out in favor of the latest federal immigration proposal during a phone conference organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy.
The immigration proposal is being considered in the U.S. Senate, thanks to a compromise by a group of eight senators from both political parties.
The plan would create a 13-year path to citizens, expand work visas and attempts to tighten border security.
H.H. Barlow, a dairy farmer in Barren County, says he supports the compromise because farms like his need more immigrant workers in Kentucky.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says the U.S. needs to “find a place” for undocumented immigrant workers. The Bowling Green Republican addressed the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, in what many analysts are seeing as another sign that Paul is preparing for a 2016 presidential run.
While he never used the word “citizenship” in his speech, Paul promised to be what he called “part of the solution” on immigration reform, saying the nation needs to create some form of legal status for undocumented immigrants. Addressing his audience, the Kentucky Senator said "if you wish to work, if you wish to live in America, then we will find a place for you.” Paul says his position is a middle ground between amnesty and deportation, saying conservative members of his party must acknowledge the country can’t deport 12 million illegal immigrants.
The remarks are a major reversal of Paul’s earlier positions, which included calls for a constitutional amendment ending birthright citizenship and a proposal to build an underground electric fence along the length of the southern U.S. border.
The presidents of Kentucky's public universities have signed a letter urging the state's U.S. senators to help overhaul the immigration system.
The letter, dated Tuesday and addressed to Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, said American universities educate some of the world's top international students only to see some of them leave under current immigration policies and work for competing companies abroad.
"Kentucky cannot afford to wait to fix our immigration system," the letter stated. "As we send away highly skilled workers trained at Kentucky and other American universities, competing international economies are welcoming these scientists and engineers."
The letter calls for a bipartisan solution to ensure these graduates have a clear path to a green card.
WKU Public Radio's conversation with Rep. Brett Guthrie on immigration reform
Kentucky's Second District Congressman says it makes no sense for U.S. colleges to graduate so many highly-skilled foreign students without a way to let them stay in this country if they choose. Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie says any attempt to overhaul America's immigration laws must make it easier for more US college graduates from other countries who have desirable skills to work here.
Rep. Guthrie says he came to this belief after attending a WKU graduation, and noticing how many of those getting master's degrees in fields of science were foreign-born.
"It just really hit me. A lot of our master's programs--not just this university--but other world class universities are graduating a lot of people who are foreign nationals, and we don't let them stay here and work and contribute to what we're trying to do here in the United States."