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Pence, Cuccinnelli and Chao speak at naturalization ceremony for new citizens

Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials marked the nation's independence Thursday by celebrating with 44 new U.S. citizens from 24 countries in a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives. 

Ken Cuccinelli, President Trump's new acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administered the oath of allegiance, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — herself an immigrant — spoke as well. 

"This is an extraordinarily emotional day," Chao told the new citizens, sharing her own story about immigrating to the U.S. as a child knowing no English. 

Pence told the new citizens that they will take place in many debates in America — including over immigration. The current system, he said, is broken. 

The new citizens present represent countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, South Korea and Vietnam. And, Pence noted, they represent many occupations — from an electrical worker, to a school counselor, to a banker, to an Uber driver. 

"Honored to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow morning at the National Archives, welcoming new naturalized citizens of the United States while surrounded by our founding documents! Couldn't ask for a more meaningful spot!" the vice president tweeted Wednesday night.

Pence will also attend President Trump's military-inspired "Salute to America" Thursday night. Mr. Trump was at his golf course in Virginia as Pence attended the naturalization ceremony. 

Mr. Trump's "Salute to America," which will take place at the Lincoln Memorial at 6:30 p.m., has drawn criticism, as the White House and Pentagon are not disclosing how much the event is costing taxpayers and some tickets are going to GOP donors.