Their just reward
From the Tampa Tribune-
These men and women have bravely fought for this country. Getting citizenship for them and their immediate families is the least this country can do for them. Thank you Trevlon Duncan and God bless you and all our fighting men and women serving today.
TAMPA - Trevlon Duncan wasn't the only immigrant with a transport unit running nighttime supply missions through Iraq.
Duncan, a U.S. Marine and native of Trinidad, remembers the Russian with a thick accent, a small contingent from South America and the two sergeants who were born in the Dominican Republic.
"I went into the barracks, and I hear this big guy with a distinct Russian accent, heavy," Duncan recalled. "It's not something you expect. But you had people from a lot of different countries."
They were assigned a dangerous task - delivering gas, water, weapons and mail. They braved the roadside explosives and gunfire. Luckily, Duncan said, there were no life-threatening injuries.
Duncan and the others are part of a trend during times of conflict: a rise of immigrants using military service as a gateway to citizenship for themselves and, sometimes, hoping it will help their families. Since 2001, more than 12,000 members of the military have become U.S. citizens. Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the 1990s produced similar spikes.
About 35,000 to 40,000 immigrants serve in the armed forces, said Chris Bentley, spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services. About 8,000 enlist every year, according to the Department of Defense.
Currently, there are 2,629 noncitizens deployed in Iraq, according to Maj. Stewart Upton, a Defense Department spokesman. Illegal immigrants are not allowed to enlist, Upton said in an e-mail.
To enlist, immigrants must have their green cards - meaning they're legal residents. Because of their service to the nation, their citizenship gets expedited at no cost to the soldiers. The Bush administration is proposing increasing that cost from $330 to $595 for others.
Becoming U.S. citizens allows military men and women to vouch for their immediate family, getting them on the citizenship track.
"It's a very viable way for an immigrant in the U.S. to show their commitment and attachment to the country," Bentley said. "They are fighting, in harm's way, for rights they've yet to secure for themselves and their families."
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