Fox & Friends Misleadingly Claims New Citizens Won't Be Required To Pledge Allegiance To The United States

Fox & Friends claimed that under a new United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “order” , new citizens will “no longer be required to pledge their allegiance to the United States.” But the new guidance only clarifies that new citizens may seek exemption from the clause committing them to “bear arms on behalf of the United States,” similar to the conscientious objection exemptions that have been available to U.S. citizens since the 1970s.

Fox & Friends Claims That “New Citizens Will No Longer Be Required To Pledge Their Allegiance To The United States”

Fox's Elisabeth Hasselbeck: “New Citizens Will No Longer Be Required To Pledge Their Allegiance To The United States.”  On the July 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that a USCIS “order” means that “new citizens will no longer be required to pledge their allegiance to the United States.” Speaking with guest Dakota Meyer, Hasselbeck called the move “so troubling” and questioned why exemptions could be provided “so easily” :

HASSELBECK: Millions come to the United States for the chance at a new life in the greatest country on the planet. But now, under a new order from President Obama's immigration officials, new citizens will no longer be required to pledge their allegiance to the United States.  

[...]

HASSELBECK: I mean, it has to be so troubling. So under this provision, too, it's not required to belong to a specific church, religion or theology to even qualify for this exemption. You know, we're asking the very best to serve all the rest. And when someone is provided with an exemption so easily, how troubling is that? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/23/15]

USCIS Clarification Applies To Conscientious Objection To Military Service, Not Pledging Allegiance To The United States

USCIS Clarifies That New Citizens May Omit Combat Readiness Clauses Based On Conscientious Objection. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services press release on the change, while "[r]eciting the Oath" remains part of the naturalization process, possible conscientious objections may be made from the combat readiness clauses on the Oath of Allegiance, effective July 21, 2015:

Reciting the Oath is part of the naturalization process. Candidates for citizenship normally declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law.

A candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection. The new guidance clarifies that a candidate:

  • May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objectionarising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.
  • Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify.
  • May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility. [USCIS, 7/21/15]

Conscientious Objections Have Been Available To Native-Born U.S. Citizens Under Similar Guidelines Since The 1970's

Conscientious Objections Based On “Deeply Held Moral, Ethical, Or Religious Beliefs” Are Available To All U.S. Citizens. Since the 1970s, U.S. law has permitted draft exemptions based on moral or ethical beliefs (emphasis added):

On the basis of these beliefs and the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that he held them “with the strength of more traditional religious convictions,” 404 F.2d at 1081, we think Welsh was clearly entitled to a conscientious objector exemption. Section [p344] 6(j) requires no more. That section exempts from military service all those whose consciences, spurred by deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, would give them no rest or peace if they allowed themselves to become a part of an instrument of war. [Welsh v. United States, 6/15/70, via Legal Information Institute]