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AILA Calls for Support of Immigrant Troops and Their Families

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03111142 (posted Nov. 11, 2003)"

American Immigration Lawyers Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Julia Hendrix
(202) 216-2404
jhendrix@aila.org

November 5, 2003       

AILA Calls on DOD Conferees to Support Immigrant Troops and Their Families

The war in Iraq has focused attention on an important fact: not only do immigrants make critical contributions to our economy, our culture, and our social fabric, they also put their lives on the line for this country by serving in the Armed Forces. About 37,000 immigrants currently serve in the military. In addition, another 13,000 noncitizens are members of the military reserves, many of whom have been called up for active duty.   Indeed, several of the first soldiers to die during the war in Iraq were not U.S. citizens, but legal permanent residents.

The latest noncitizen to die far from her Houston, Texas home was Pfc Analaura Esparza-Gutierrez. Esparaza was killed in early October during an attack on her convoy near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

“Congress must recognize these immigrants’ extraordinary sacrifices, and can do so by supporting provisions that the Senate passed as part of the FY 2004 Department of Defense Authorization bill,” said Judith Golub, Senior Director of Advocacy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Conferees currently are meeting to resolve differences on the bill, and one of those differences involves whether to retain the Senate provisions facilitating citizenship for noncitizens serving in the military.

AILA strongly supports the Senate-passed provisions that would expedite the naturalization process for legal permanent residents who serve in the military. “We are concerned that opponents of these worthy measures are seeking to strike them from the DOD bill,” said Marshall Fitz, AILA’s Associate Director of Advocacy.

“Such an action would send the wrong signal,” said Golub and Fitz. “Our nation needs to do the right thing and honor the sacrifices of these soldiers and their families by making sure that they gain U.S. citizenship in a timely manner.  DOD conferees can help achieve that worthy goal by accepting the Senate language concerning military naturalization. We should do no less,” concluded Golub and Fitz.  

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Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and provides liaison with the INS and other government agencies. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

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