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  • Non-citizen patriots deserve better

    http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercuryne...on/5547867.htm

    Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
    Non-citizen patriots deserve better
    IMMIGRANTS HAVE FOUGHT FOR AMERICA IN EVERY WAR; WHEN THEY SEEK CITIZENSHIP, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT GIVE THEM A RUNAROUND

    YOU don't have to be a citizen to be a patriot. Joseph Menusa, Francisco Martinez, Jose Gutierrez, Jesus Suarez del Solar and Jose Garibay died showing that.

    The five Californians, all immigrants, were among the first U.S. casualties in Iraq. Congress has decreed that they and other non-citizens pose too much of a security risk to inspect bags at airports. Yet they willingly sacrificed their lives for their new country. Immigrants have done this in every war since the Revolution.

    An estimated 37,000 non-citizens are serving in the U.S. military -- between 4 and 5 percent of enlistees. A third are from California.

    Some, like Menusa, wanted to become citizens, only to be frustrated by a three-year wait, compounded by paperwork and bureaucracy.

    Eliminating delays to citizenship is the least the government can do for those in uniform.

    A 33-year-old native of the Philippines, Menusa grew up in San Jose and made the military his career. His widow, Stacy, said her husband's application for citizenship had been in the works for seven years. After he paid his application fee, it took 18 months to get an appointment in Sacramento for an interview that he couldn't make while in recruiter school in Hawaii. Her husband discussed his desire for citizenship again not long before he shipped off to Iraq.

    ``There's something wrong here,'' she said. ``He died for the country he loved.''

    Only immigrants who have green cards, granting permanent residency, can enlist in the service. And without citizenship, immigrants can advance only so far. They can't become a commissioned officer or a Navy SEAL, or get high-security promotions.

    Immigrants sign up for the same reasons as other Americans: career opportunities, educational benefits, adventure, devotion to country.

    Jose Gutierrez, a 21-year-old Marine from Lomita, enlisted to earn tuition to study architecture. Francisco Martinez, 21, of Duarte, near Los Angeles, wanted to become a stock broker or detective.

    Last July, President Bush cited the war on terror when he added a big inducement to enlistment. He ordered that citizenship applications of those on active duty be pushed to the top of the pile.

    It's already had an impact; the requests for applications have quadrupled. The government also supposedly established a team to expedite the processing of applications, though that would have been news to Menusa.

    Immigrant soldiers would get one more benefit under a bill by Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas. It would waive citizenship fees and expenses that can add up to more than $1,000.

    The Marines, an organization of Philippine vets and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps are working hard to have Joseph Menusa's citizenship awarded posthumously, Stacy Menusa said. Her husband would have appreciated that honor.

    It shouldn't take death, though, to get the government's attention. Citizenship should be enjoyed by the living.

    FOLLOWUP: A fund has been established to honor Joseph Menusa, the 33-year-old graduate of Silver Creek High School in San Jose who died in combat in Iraq. Contributions can be sent to the Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa Memorial, in care of the Mid-State Bank, 1110 East Clark Ave., Santa Maria, CA 93455.

  • #2
    http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercuryne...on/5547867.htm

    Posted on Thu, Apr. 03, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
    Non-citizen patriots deserve better
    IMMIGRANTS HAVE FOUGHT FOR AMERICA IN EVERY WAR; WHEN THEY SEEK CITIZENSHIP, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT GIVE THEM A RUNAROUND

    YOU don't have to be a citizen to be a patriot. Joseph Menusa, Francisco Martinez, Jose Gutierrez, Jesus Suarez del Solar and Jose Garibay died showing that.

    The five Californians, all immigrants, were among the first U.S. casualties in Iraq. Congress has decreed that they and other non-citizens pose too much of a security risk to inspect bags at airports. Yet they willingly sacrificed their lives for their new country. Immigrants have done this in every war since the Revolution.

    An estimated 37,000 non-citizens are serving in the U.S. military -- between 4 and 5 percent of enlistees. A third are from California.

    Some, like Menusa, wanted to become citizens, only to be frustrated by a three-year wait, compounded by paperwork and bureaucracy.

    Eliminating delays to citizenship is the least the government can do for those in uniform.

    A 33-year-old native of the Philippines, Menusa grew up in San Jose and made the military his career. His widow, Stacy, said her husband's application for citizenship had been in the works for seven years. After he paid his application fee, it took 18 months to get an appointment in Sacramento for an interview that he couldn't make while in recruiter school in Hawaii. Her husband discussed his desire for citizenship again not long before he shipped off to Iraq.

    ``There's something wrong here,'' she said. ``He died for the country he loved.''

    Only immigrants who have green cards, granting permanent residency, can enlist in the service. And without citizenship, immigrants can advance only so far. They can't become a commissioned officer or a Navy SEAL, or get high-security promotions.

    Immigrants sign up for the same reasons as other Americans: career opportunities, educational benefits, adventure, devotion to country.

    Jose Gutierrez, a 21-year-old Marine from Lomita, enlisted to earn tuition to study architecture. Francisco Martinez, 21, of Duarte, near Los Angeles, wanted to become a stock broker or detective.

    Last July, President Bush cited the war on terror when he added a big inducement to enlistment. He ordered that citizenship applications of those on active duty be pushed to the top of the pile.

    It's already had an impact; the requests for applications have quadrupled. The government also supposedly established a team to expedite the processing of applications, though that would have been news to Menusa.

    Immigrant soldiers would get one more benefit under a bill by Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas. It would waive citizenship fees and expenses that can add up to more than $1,000.

    The Marines, an organization of Philippine vets and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps are working hard to have Joseph Menusa's citizenship awarded posthumously, Stacy Menusa said. Her husband would have appreciated that honor.

    It shouldn't take death, though, to get the government's attention. Citizenship should be enjoyed by the living.

    FOLLOWUP: A fund has been established to honor Joseph Menusa, the 33-year-old graduate of Silver Creek High School in San Jose who died in combat in Iraq. Contributions can be sent to the Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa Memorial, in care of the Mid-State Bank, 1110 East Clark Ave., Santa Maria, CA 93455.

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    • #3
      Well did you here the news today that President Bush is signing an excecutive order for their families to get citizenship? Well it is true. See we do care about people in this country and so does our president. He believes that we shall leave no soldier or his family behind.

      Comment


      • #4
        SIMPER FIDELES!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          It is "SEMPER FIDELIS" ... Sharon, that executive order was always activated in wartime, nothing new!

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          • #6
            Hornet Driver may well be the deranged "tb". Ignore him.

            Comment


            • #7
              Holding back tears, the father who lost his son in the war in Iraq begged to know: Did his boy die for an honorable cause, a means to an end to post 9-11 terrorism against America -- or had his been an expendable casualty in a U.S. war for oil?

              U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar was barely 20 when he met his maker March 30 as he fought with the First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, he arrived in California with his family in 1997 and was not yet a U.S. citizen -- among some 36,000 men and women enlisted in the military holding so-called green cards that allow permanent residency in this country.

              This is not the first U.S. war in which non-citizens fought for the United States. But in this war, the number of non-citizens is striking, as is the disproportionate number of U.S. military deaths so far involving non-citizens.

              Why are these young men and women good enough to risk their lives for America, but apparently not "good enough" to be granted automatic citizenship?

              At a town-hall meeting televised live by Spanish-language network Univision last week, many Hispanics questioned a U.S. policy that accepts brave immigrants to fight America's wars but does little to grant them the citizenship they deserve. "Why wait until they're dead to give them U.S. citizenship?" one immigrant mother asked.

              Indeed, why?

              Four Latinos, all Marines, who have died so far in the Iraqi war were not U.S. citizens. It turns out that one -- Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 27, killed in a tank battle outside Umm Qasr on March 21 -- was an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, an orphan who eventually moved to California.

              Cpl. Angel Garibay, 21, died in combat near Nasiriya, and Pfc. Francisco Martinez Flores, who had filed for U.S. citizenship, drowned in the Euphrates River when his tank plunged into the water. Both were born in Mexico.

              Fernando Suarez del Solar says his son doesn't need U.S. citizenship to validate his life. The angst of a distraught father only makes the issue more compelling to me. Citizenship should be par for the course of war.

              Last summer, President Bush signed an executive order that fast-tracks the process for legal immigrants who serve in the military to become full-fledged citizens. Previously, there was a three-year wait. But even a fast track takes too long when young men are dying.

              After all, 5 percent of America's volunteer military are not yet U.S. citizens but saw service to this country as an honorable course.

              At that same town-hall forum last week, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez did his best to console Fernando Suarez del Solar when the man asked why diplomacy hadn't offered a way out of this war and saved his son and others. As a member of Bush's Cabinet and the administration's highest-ranking Hispanic, Martinez made the government's case for fighting Saddam Hussein's regime. The alternative, Martinez noted, would be to have waited, done nothing and allowed Saddam to continue making contacts with terrorists and brewing plans for weapons of mass destruction.

              As the U.S. military seeks to secure Baghdad and capture Saddam, those immigrants who are fighting for this land of the free remain in a political limbo. They were good enough to be vetted, to meet rigorous physical and mental requirements to be in the U.S. military, but still don't have the right to vote, to participate fully in this country's future.

              Some anti-immigration groups already are beating the drum against these immigrant soldiers, blaming the U.S. military for recruiting people who aren't full-fledged Americans. Those armchair war-watchers have nerve to criticize.

              A lot of people enter the military for self-serving reasons, and I dare say many of them were born right here in the U.S.A. Whatever their reasons -- such as government promises for future college-tuition benefits or job training that will pay off in civilian life -- they are putting their lives on the line in the here and now.

              Those willing to fight for us on the home front, to do whatever the U.S. government says must be done in Iraq or anywhere else, should be granted all the rights and privileges of those born here. Not in a few months, not after they die. Right now.



              http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...on%2Dheadlines

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