Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Immigrants Becoming U.S. Citizens After Military Service

An ongoing discussion in recent years has revolved around the role that the U.S. government should play in handling immigrants to the United States. In order to bolster thinning military ranks in the midst of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia, the government is offering to fast-track immigrants who serve in the military so that they can become U.S. citizens.

The Orlando Sentinel states the following:
"National immigration statistics show that the number of military immigrants becoming citizens is not only the highest since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars started in 2002 and 2003, but is at a level not reached since 1970. About 9,000 have become citizens this year.

As the country relies on more immigrants to help win its wars — more than 100,000 are currently enlisted, making up about 8 percent of armed forces — it is making an effort to grant them citizenship.

"It's us trying to reach them," said Sharon Scheidhauer, spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Orlando. "We set up a separate system: Their applications go to a separate place so they are handled very quickly, and they can get that honor."

The armed forces are targeting immigrants as early as boot camp and are offering assistance in filling out citizenship paperwork. Congress also passed a law waiving the $675 application fees, and former President George W. Bush had already invoked a wartime law waiving waiting periods before applying for those enlisted."
There are many hard-working immigrants from other countries that have defended the U.S. by serving in our military. The offer to speed up the process for these individuals who desire to become U.S. citizens seems like a reasonable and fair way of recognizing their service.

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