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Soldiers join U.S. military to speed citizenship, risk death

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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:26 AM
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Soldiers join U.S. military to speed citizenship, risk death
Posted on Tue, Apr. 06, 2004

Soldiers join U.S. military to speed citizenship, risk death


Knight Ridder Newspapers



There are nearly 34,000 noncitizens on active duty in the U.S. military, making up about 2.4 percent of the country's armed forces. And last year, more than 4 percent of new recruits were non-citizens.Most are Hispanic, although some 180 countries are represented in the military ranks, according to the Defense Department. Legal residents of the United States, the green card soldiers join up for a variety of reasons: patriotism, money, adventure - and a chance to earn citizenship quickly.Military service has long offered a short cut to American citizenship, and President Bush increased the advantage with a 2002 executive order temporarily dropping a three-year waiting period for citizenship for military members. (Civilians must wait at least five years to become citizens.)


Congress in November reduced the peacetime waiting period for military members from three years to one and increased benefits for survivors of noncitizen soldiers who die in wartime.


"A person should earn the right to serve the nation, rather than the other way around," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates reduced immigration. Krikorian contends that the lure of quick citizenship, coupled with low military pay, could eventually make "soldiering work Americans won't do."


Since that order in 2002, more than 13,500 noncitizen soldiers have applied for citizenship, and more than 8,000 have received it.

Uday Singh was one of those applicants.

He grew up in Chandigarh, India, the son and grandson of military officers. He moved to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle in Lake Forest, Ill., north of Chicago, and enlisted in the Army in 2000. He re-enlisted in 2002, prompted in part by the opportunity to speed his chance for citizenship, his aunt said."He said, `That way, I will already have my citizenship and it will be that much easier to get a college loan,' " she said.And with citizenship, the young tank driver would have a chance to become an officer. Noncitizens are not allowed to be officers or to serve in certain units such as the Navy SEALs.

"One of his commanders had told him about a program for enlisted men to go to West Point, and he was very interested in that," his aunt said.His citizenship application was approved late last year, and all that stood between him and his goal was fingerprinting and the swearing-in ceremony. And the hazards of war.On Dec. 1, he was in a routine three-vehicle patrol that came under fire near Habbaniyah, about 65 miles west of Baghdad. He died on the way to the hospital.In death, Singh received what he had sought in life. He was granted posthumous citizenship, and on Jan. 8, after being cremated in India, his ashes were interred in Arlington National Cemetery.


2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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LuminousX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 06:36 AM
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1. Didn't Machiavelli Warn Against This
Don't use foreign mercenaries to enforce national interests. I understand the times were different but if we start relying upon only foreign nationals seeking citizenship to make up our military, we are setting ourselves up for a nasty reality check.
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