Support Naturalizing Non-Citizen Soldiers
D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today commended Reps.
Ciro Rodríguez (D-TX), Hilda Solís (D-CA), Martin
Frost (D-TX) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for introducing
a motion that would expedite the naturalization process for non-citizen
soldiers and provide immigration benefits for family members of
soldiers killed in combat. Today, the House approved the Rodríguez
motion by a vote of 298 to 118, instructing House and Senate conferees
drafting this year's Department of Defense authorization bill to
enact the citizenship provisions into law.
non-citizens soldiers love America so much that they are willing
to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect us and promote our values
and defend our Constitution," said Pelosi. "In return,
we have a responsibility to make sure that immigrant soldiers who
defend our country are recognized for their contributions and valor,
and that their families are also protected and naturalized."
In July, the
House-passed authorization bill did not include provisions regarding
naturalization for non-citizen soldiers. The Rodríguez motion
instructs House and Senate conferees to correct that omission by
keeping Senate language addressing this issue. The language in the
Senate version also provides immigration protections for family
members of soldiers killed in action and aids the naturalization
process for active duty reservists.
"Right now, 37,000 immigrants are serving our countrys
Armed Forces, including more than 5,000 currently serving in Iraq,"
said Rep. Rodríguez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus. "These brave soldiers, in order to enlist, have already
met the same rigorous evaluation as U.S. citizens. But beyond simply
meeting the qualifications for military service, non-citizen soldiers
have passed an even more important test -- they have proven their
loyalty to the United States by pledging to defend our nation and
our values with their bodies, their minds, and their lives.
pleased that my colleagues chose to join with me in supporting this
small token of gratitude as a demonstration to the 37,000 brave
immigrant soldiers that we appreciate their patriotism to the United
States," he added.
many military members have died defending a country they couldn't
officially call their own," said Rep. Solís. "I
am pleased that the House has recognized the urgency in removing
the barriers that delay citizenship for the heroes protecting our
homeland and preserving our freedoms."
It is estimated
that two million Hispanics have served with distinction in the armed
forces, including 37,000 lawful permanent residents currently serving
today. They are among the most highly decorated soldiers in U.S.
military. Approximately 20 percent of Congressional Medal of Honor
recipients have been immigrants.