President Joe Biden celebrated new U.S. citizens, including Jamaican-born, history-making nurse Sandra Lindsay, at an event at the White House on July 2nd.
The event was part of a federal effort to swear in almost 10,000 immigrants as United States citizens. During the event, President Biden was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a native of Cuba, who said that it was important for the Biden administration to recognize the contributions of immigrants to the United States.
During his speech, President Biden referred to U.S. immigrants as brave and said that their dreams helped to build the country.
“It’s dreams of immigrants like you that built America and continued to inject new energy, new vitality, new strength,” Biden said in the East Room, thanking the 21 naturalized Americans for choosing the United States as their home.
At Friday’s ceremony, Biden also commended immigrants for their contributions to the country, noting that many serve in the military or have been working as health-care and front-line workers during the pandemic.
The president also presented the “Outstanding American by Choice” award to Jamaican-born Sandra Lindsay, who was the first person in America to get fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials. Lindsay immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica when she was 18 years old.
“She’s pursued her dream of becoming a nurse to allow her to do what she wanted to do most — give back to her new country,” Biden said of Lindsay. “During the height of the pandemic, she poured her heart and soul into the work to help patients fight for their lives, to keep her fellow nurses safe.”
He added: “With a grandson at home, prematurely, she did what she had to do. She kept her distance and kept him safe. He is safe, but she lost an aunt and an uncle to the virus. But in her pain, she didn’t lose hope.
“When the time came, she was the first person in America to get fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials. She can now hug her grandson; she’s out there making sure her patients, folks in her community are getting vaccinated so they could get back to their lives and their loved ones.”
The “Outstanding American by Choice” is given to immigrants who make significant contributions to the United States. It was presented to Linsday from US Citizenship and Immigration Services for her dedication to taking care of patients during the pandemic.
“I came to this country for the opportunities – not only for myself but to be able to help others. As a nurse, I do everything to care for the sickest patients and lead by example,” said Dr. Lindsay, director of patient care services for critical care at Northwell Health.
“More than 24 years after becoming a naturalized citizen, I could never have imagined where I am today, at the White House receiving high honors from the President. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of this great nation and I will continue to lead and help those in need.”
Her vaccination card, badge and scrubs will form part of a future exhibit about Covid at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, President Biden said.