Linder speaks to new citizens, celebrates 65th birthday

U.S. Rep. John Linder welcomed some of Georgia's newest citizens this week.

He spoke to about 160 people from more than dozen countries who were sworn in as U.S. citizens on Friday at the United States District Court in Atlanta.

"This was an incredible opportunity," he said. "The people here put significant time and effort into our complicated immigration process and have earned their citizenship. I have said many times before that we are a nation of immigrants, and many of our successes are built on the labors of legal immigrants. Today, we continue that tradition and welcome these people here as citizens of the United States with the same undeniable rights as all other Americans, whether they are fifth generation American or first."

Linder talked about his grandfather, who immigrated to the United States and some of his struggles.

"We live in a time where immigration has taken center stage," he said to the new citizens, thanking them for their desire to be Americans. "The House will present a new immigration bill soon in a second attempt to deal with border security, and I am certain that it will be a very heated debate. It is important for Americans to remember that America is the greatest nation on earth, built by immigrants, and we must not demonize or disenfranchise those who are trying to come here in the right way."

Linder authored the "The U.S. General Population Act," which mirrors Mexico's tough immigration policy.

Happy birthday, Linder

Nearly 500 constituents and colleagues came out for a surprise birthday party for the 65-year-old congressman Saturday.

Organizers said they wanted to thank Linder for his 14 years of service in Congress and his leadership in trying to abolish the federal income tax in favor of a national sales tax.

"After years of Democrats trying to redistrict Congressman Linder out of his districts, John has proven election after election that his common sense, pro-business, pro-family, and pro-liberty approach to government is what keeps him in office and has made him one of Georgia's most popular and well-loved representatives," said Amy Borden, the vice chairman of the GOP's committee in Linder's 7th District.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston were expected to attend the party, and Gov. Sonny Perdue sent well-wishes via video.

One more race

Qualifying for two seats on the Bethlehem City Council will be held later this month.

People who have been Bethlehem residents for at least six months and residents of Georgia for at least a year may qualify for either the Post 4 or Post 5 seat for $10 from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 27 to 29.

Dan Wages, who held one of the seats, resigned effective Aug. 14 because his work required him to travel. Karen Robertson, who held the other seat, will be moving to Washington state. Her resignation is effective Oct. 15.

If more than one person qualifies for a post, the city's election will be held Nov. 7.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.