Thursday, March 20, 2008

Immigrant Soldiers Die with U.S. Citizenship

Helen O'Neill has a thoughtful piece on Academic Ink on the bittersweet grant of citiznship to U.S.  soldiers killed in Iraq.  According to the story, more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq:

"Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion. In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin. And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong? Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez's service, put it differently. "There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship," Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime." 

IntLawGrrl's Diane Amann highlights the Cardinal Mahony quote in this story in a "`Nuff said" feature.

For a CNN story about an immigrant soldier, click here.


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That may sound like the right thing to do, but it must have some sort of safeguards to prevent a person from enlisting, gaining citizenship and then doing something to get booted out of the military intentionally. A dishonorable discharge is not something that is hard to live with as long as you have your citizenship intact. Now, with citizenship the person could sponsor other family members which would cause more mass immigration. Bad idea.

Posted by: EYES OF TEXAS | Mar 20, 2008 7:25:55 AM

Really, when it comes down to it, what difference does it make to the soldier whether he dies a citizen or not? And I agree with EoT in that people could enlist for other than the purpose of becoming good soldiers and serving their country. Do you immigration lawyers think that the government offered a path to citizenship without considering this possibility? It's obvious that professors Hing and Johnson have never served in the military, or they'd have realized this. The government is being very reasonable, in requiring a waiting period, unlike the jerk Mahoney, who's probably put no thought at all in his suggestion, certainly not won that considers the interests of his country (or is he an agent of Mexico). The only people who are making an issue of this are fanatical advocacy groups and immigration lawyers, all who have agendas that suit their own selfish needs and certainly not their country.

Posted by: Horace | Mar 20, 2008 7:17:10 PM

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