Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is up in arms about new Obama administration guidelines for exempting naturalized citizens who are conscientious objectors from the oath of citizenship’s promise to “bear arms” on behalf of the United States. The GOP presidential candidate told an Iowa radio program yesterday that the new exemption guidelines show that President Obama is “giving up on America” by allowing an “invasion” of unassimilated immigrants.
In 1950, Congress added the vow to “bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law” to the oath taken by naturalized citizens after a court ruled that military service wasn’t implicitly required in the existing oath. However, new citizens taking the oath were allowed to refuse to say the line “on the basis of religious training and beliefs,” just as all citizens are allowed to opt out of military service if they are conscientious objectors.
In 2003, a Bush administration effort to modernize the oath would have removed the “bear arms” line altogether, but was rebuffed after facing conservative criticism that the line replacing it was too weak. The new Obama administration policy keeps the “bear arms” part of the oath, but updates the guidelines on who may be exempt from saying it for religious or moral reasons.
Jindal, who has tried to position himself as the Right’s foremost defender of religious freedom, reasonably reacted to this news yesterday by circulating a petition calling for the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be fired, falsely claiming that the administration was “deleting the requirement” that naturalized immigrants vow to serve in the military, and declaring, “Immigration without assimilation is not immigration, it is invasion.”
Jindal repeated this criticism in an interview yesterday with Iowa conservative radio host Simon Conway, himself a naturalized U.S. citizen, saying, “Look, immigration without assimilation, that’s not immigration, that is an invasion.”
Jindal went on to say that by supporting this policy change, Obama has violated his own oath of office: “He takes an oath saying he’s going to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, this to me sounds like he’s giving up on America.”