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Defense Secretary Roberts M. Gates presents Army Sgt. Michael Santos, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., with a certificate of U.S. citizenship during a naturalization ceremony Oct. 23, 2008, at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.
Nearly 40 servicemembers representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines became U.S. citizens during the ceremony.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tony Hawkins
By Army Sgt. Jasmine Chopra
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, April 14, 2008 – Two hundred fifty-nine foreign-born U.S. troops serving throughout Iraq became American citizens at Al Faw Palace here April 12 in the largest U.S.
naturalization ceremony to date in Iraq.
Among the newest citizens were several soldiers who entered the United States as refugees from war-torn nations, including Spc. Simon Nbenye, an Arabic interpreter with Company D, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Born in war-ravaged Sudan, a place where youth are sometimes snatched from their homes and forced to fight as child soldiers in a bloody civil war, Nbenye and his family faced religious and racial persecution from the Arab-Islamic government.
“The situation was terrible for my family,” Nbenye said. “No jobs, no finances and too, too much violence.”
Part of the Nbenye family, including Simon, moved to the Sudanese capital, while other family members stayed south in the town of Maridi. Fearing his son would be forced to become a soldier, Nbenye’s father urged his son to flee Sudan.
“They go to your home, knock on your door and ask your father where you are. If he refuses to get you, they kill him, get you and put you in the army. There is no guarantee you’ll ever make it back home alive, and they send you down to kill your own people,” Nbenye said. “I had friends from school who were captured, sent to fight, and I have never seen them again.”
Travelling illegally through several countries in Africa including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Egypt, Nbenye finally connected with the United Nations office in Cairo and gained refugee status. He entered the United States legally in 2001.
“When they granted me refugee status, it gave me so much hope,” Nbenye said. “It meant for me a chance to start a new life in a safe place.”
In 2006, upon hearing the Army needed Arabic speakers to help with the global war on terrorism, Nbenye, fluent in Arabic, enlisted.
“America did something good for my life and my family by accepting me, so I decided I want to do something for the American people to show them I am grateful,” Nbenye said.
Until he came to the United States, he had never truly experienced freedom, Nbenye said. “My whole life, there is war in my country. No peace, never knowing for sure if you go out, you’ll come back home. In America things are different. I feel safe.”
Now that he is a citizen, Nbenye said he hopes to get a better job, visit his family in Sudan, and help them become American citizens too.
More than 40,000 service members are not American citizens, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These foreign-born men and women have pledged commitment to the U.S. Constitution by serving in the military, and many are availing themselves of a July 2002 executive order making members of the armed forces immediately eligible to apply for citizenship. Nearly 5,000 service members have earned U.S. citizenship while serving abroad since 2004, U.S. officials said.
Town Hall: The Messy Politics of Illegal Immigration
With the war in Iraq politically on the backburner, illegal immigration is heating up as a campaign issue. The public wants action, and the candidates are scrambling to react.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s sure nomination was first questioned when she flubbed an easy debate question about driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
Sen. John McCain’s recovery took off when he backed away from his support of immigration reform that did not first ensure the closure of the border.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is no longer for “sanctuary cities” that shield illegal aliens from arrest. Like former Gov. Mike Huckabee, he’s now a born-again opponent of illegal immigration.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney assures us that some illegal aliens can be deported within 90 days after he’s elected.
Sen. Barack Obama may talk of “change,” but his relative fuzziness about illegal immigration can’t last forever, and at some point he will have to offer more specific proposals.
Some time ago, supporters of open borders lost the debate. The majority of Americans want them closed — now! They ignore the tired slurs like “anti-immigrant,” “racist,” “protectionist” and “nativist.” And noisy May Day parades with Mexican flags and heated rhetoric from the National Council of La Raza (“The Race”) only turn more people off.
It doesn’t do any good, either, for a Mexico City functionary to cry about how mean we are to want a secure border with Mexico. Most Americans also tuned that out long ago.
They know instead that Mexico cares mostly about sending north those it won’t or can’t feed and house — so it can skim off from them billions in remittances once they arrive in the United States.
Mexico City, of course, could reform the country’s laws and economy whenever it wants. But it changes only enough to draw in tourists or Americans looking to buy vacation homes, not to better the lives of millions of its mestizo poor in the heartland.
The spin masters may think illegal immigration is an issue that pits conservative Republicans against liberal Democrats. But it doesn’t always.
Nowadays, worry about illegal immigration is just as likely to mean that African-Americans are terrified of racist alien gangs in Los Angeles. Asian-Americans are frustrated that their relatives with college degrees wait years to emigrate legally, while thousands without high-school diplomas to the south simply break the law to enter the United States.
And many Mexican-Americans are probably tired of being expected to defend the indefensible of foreign nationals breaking immigration laws simply because they may share an ethnic heritage with illegal aliens.
Read the rest below the fold -> here.
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to block a new Arizona law that prohibits people from hiring illegal immigrants and requires businesses to verify whether applicants are eligible for employment.
The law takes effect Jan. 1.
In his ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake wrote that the lawsuit was premature because there was no evidence that anybody had been harmed, and that the plaintiffs — a coalition of business and immigrant rights groups — were suing the wrong people.
Arizona Governor Napolitano signed the bill in July, saying that while immigration is a federal responsibility, Congress was apparently “incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs.”
The federal government yesterday introduced a new U.S. citizenship civics exam designed to force would-be citizens to go beyond memorizing historical facts and instead grasp the fundamental meaning of being an American.
Gone are questions about the number of states in the union or what country the U.S. fought in the Revolutionary War. In their place are questions about why the colonists went to war with Britain or what powers are held exclusively by the federal government.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, an architect of the Democratic campaign that regained control of the House last year, says his party will not attempt comprehensive immigration reform until at least the second term of a prospective Democratic president.
The congressman’s statement was reported by a Hispanic activist and confirmed by Mr. Emanuel. “Congressman Rahm Emanuel said to me two weeks ago, there is no way this legislation is happening in the Democratic House, in the Democratic Senate, in the Democratic presidency, in the first term,” Juan Salgado, board chairman of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) at its annual convention last weekend.
Mr. Emanuel’s assessment of the political realities discouraged Hispanics working for immigration reform now.
“I was caught off-guard by the statement,” Mr. Salgado said in an interview. “I interpret his comments as a lack of courage on what they know is right. Listen, we’re here at the NCLR conference, and what it’s going to take is not the attitude of Rahm Emanuel, if this is a second-term issue. What it’s going to take is boldness by the president.”
Details -> here
When something just has to be done, and nothing gets done, the roadblock often turns out to be a group we sometimes call the bitter enders.
They thrive when there is a roughly even split between two sides on some issue. They love to demonstrate their clout by bringing things to a standstill. When no action is taken, when nothing is decided, they celebrate a victory.
Maybe it’s time to get something done about immigrants.
Maybe it’s time to let them ride in the back of the bus, for a change.
No, not the immigrants, the bitter enders.
Definition of amnesty (noun)
Example of amnesty
When his first child was born, the king granted amnesty to all in prison.
TIJUANA — U.S. motorists are flocking to gas pumps south of the border to save 25% or more on the cost of a fill-up — courtesy of the Mexican government.
Worried about inflation, Mexican officials are keeping a lid on retail prices at the state-owned petroleum company Pemex. Regular-grade gasoline in this border town is selling for about $2.60 a gallon.
While the Immigration Bill runs the gauntlet of a thousand cuts (as one observer so poetically put it), one can only wonder if there will still be a viable bill, capable of fixing our Southern Border, at the end of the process.
Of course, there is always that other solution to fixing our Southern Border, the one nobody ever wants to think about, let alone discuss out loud: Annexation of Mexico.
No. Didn’t really think you would like that one, either.
On Wednesday night, Senator Edward M. Kennedy stared at an exhausted negotiating team of 20 senators and two Cabinet secretaries and said, “Let’s shoot for 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
The negotiators were tantalizingly close to a historic deal to remake the nation’s immigration system. But at several points, nervous senators were ready to give up. Republicans wanted to give temporary visas only to workers taking undersubscribed jobs. Democrats wanted to allow family members of immigrants to come in more quickly.
But Kennedy, the Senate’s consummate dealmaker — still indefatigable at 75 — pushed hard at his fellow Democrats, wavering Republican moderates, and even members of the Bush administration, insisting that the deal-makers work all night Wednesday to beat the deadline imposed by the Senate leadership.
Yesterday, the two Cabinet secretaries — both of whom have been subjects of Kennedy broadsides in the past — lauded the Democrats’ aging lion as the one indispensable player in the negotiating process.
“He’s awesome,” gushed Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff , as he left a news conference announcing the bipartisan agreement. “I’d say he was one of the critical leaders in putting together this deal.”
Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez called it “a real privilege” to work with Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and liberal stalwart who spends much of his time trying to thwart or undo Bush administration policies.
“It’s obvious we’re in different parties. We don’t always agree,” Gutierrez said. But, he added, Kennedy “is focused. He’s very determined.”
Kennedy’s demand that negotiators have a deal by 10 a.m., Gutierrez said, was the “stimulus” that got the deal done.
Iran’s foreign minister says Tehran will begin direct talks with the United States about Iraqi security later this month. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports the high-level meeting is not expected to touch on the ongoing controversy over Iran’s nuclear program. More->
On North Korea, the U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 stood out Monday in what it did not say — and in the one sentence that technically did not need to be included but was. More->
Key senators in both parties announced agreement with the White House Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border. More ->