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  • Posthumous Citizenship Granted to Marines

    By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer

    LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. - Marine Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez gave their lives in Iraq, waging war for the United States, a land they loved and believed in. No matter that it wasn't their official homeland; they were determined that one day it would be.

    That day came Wednesday.

    With the help of their families and fellow Marines, Garibay and Gutierrez became American citizens post-humously. The acting director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services signed the papers without fanfare, without the men's families or the media to watch. An executive order signed by President Bush last year allows family of troops killed in war to apply for post-humous citizenship. The certificates will be presented to the families if that's their wish, according to the bureau. Gutierrez, 22, of Lomita, Calif., died March 21 at the port city of Umm Qasr, one of the first casualties of the war. When he was 14, Gutierrez crossed into California after taking trains from Guatemala through Mexico. The orphan found a foster family, attended high school in Southern California and then joined the Marine Corps. He was assigned as an infantry rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Cardinal Roger Mahony will celebrate a funeral Mass for Gutierrez on Monday at a church in Lomita and burial will be in Guatemala, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said. "We're proud as a family that he was able to become a citizen because that's one of the things he wanted to do. And we are honored," Lillian Cardenas, his foster sister, told The Associated Press.

    Gutierrez's body was to remain in Delaware until arrangements between the United States and Guatemala were finalized, family members said. Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, Calif., died March 23 in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad. He was a native of Jalisco, Mexico, whose family moved to the United States when he was a baby. Garibay joined the Marines three years ago and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. "He thought he was an American. He probably thought he was more an American than a Mexican," said Garibay's sister Crystal. Garibay's family was awaiting the return of his remains. Once returned, the family will hold a memorial service in Costa Mesa. Several telephone calls to Camp Pendleton, which is coordinating the citizenship requests, were not returned. Marine Maj. Brian Dolan, who has been helping the Garibay family, told The Orange County Register the Marine Corps facilitated the citizenship process after Garibay's mother, Simona, mentioned that it was her son's dream to become a citizen. "I took that on as something we possibly could help out with and do the right thing," Dolan said, adding that Garibay's mother is also in the process of becoming a citizen. "Her son died fighting for this country, so I certainly think it is warranted that her son gained citizenship and is buried as an American citizen," Dolan said.

  • #2
    By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer

    LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. - Marine Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez gave their lives in Iraq, waging war for the United States, a land they loved and believed in. No matter that it wasn't their official homeland; they were determined that one day it would be.

    That day came Wednesday.

    With the help of their families and fellow Marines, Garibay and Gutierrez became American citizens post-humously. The acting director of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services signed the papers without fanfare, without the men's families or the media to watch. An executive order signed by President Bush last year allows family of troops killed in war to apply for post-humous citizenship. The certificates will be presented to the families if that's their wish, according to the bureau. Gutierrez, 22, of Lomita, Calif., died March 21 at the port city of Umm Qasr, one of the first casualties of the war. When he was 14, Gutierrez crossed into California after taking trains from Guatemala through Mexico. The orphan found a foster family, attended high school in Southern California and then joined the Marine Corps. He was assigned as an infantry rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Cardinal Roger Mahony will celebrate a funeral Mass for Gutierrez on Monday at a church in Lomita and burial will be in Guatemala, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said. "We're proud as a family that he was able to become a citizen because that's one of the things he wanted to do. And we are honored," Lillian Cardenas, his foster sister, told The Associated Press.

    Gutierrez's body was to remain in Delaware until arrangements between the United States and Guatemala were finalized, family members said. Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, Calif., died March 23 in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad. He was a native of Jalisco, Mexico, whose family moved to the United States when he was a baby. Garibay joined the Marines three years ago and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. "He thought he was an American. He probably thought he was more an American than a Mexican," said Garibay's sister Crystal. Garibay's family was awaiting the return of his remains. Once returned, the family will hold a memorial service in Costa Mesa. Several telephone calls to Camp Pendleton, which is coordinating the citizenship requests, were not returned. Marine Maj. Brian Dolan, who has been helping the Garibay family, told The Orange County Register the Marine Corps facilitated the citizenship process after Garibay's mother, Simona, mentioned that it was her son's dream to become a citizen. "I took that on as something we possibly could help out with and do the right thing," Dolan said, adding that Garibay's mother is also in the process of becoming a citizen. "Her son died fighting for this country, so I certainly think it is warranted that her son gained citizenship and is buried as an American citizen," Dolan said.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think Saddam has gone away by now.

      Comment


      • #4
        lately...

        Comment


        • #5
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, they went to service in the military, and even died. I just cannot get it.

            Comment

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