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2003-04-11

Congress Considers Bill to Grant Automatic Citizenship to Some Immigrant Soldiers Fighting in Iraq: But There Is a Catch, the Law Would Only Apply to Soldiers Who Die in Combat

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Immigration officials have decided to grant citizenship to seven US soldiers now that they have died in Iraq.

The names of three soldiers have been released. They are: 19-year-old Diego Rincon was born in Columbia, 27-year-old Jose Gutierrez was born in Guatemala and 21-year-old Jose Angel Garibay was born in Mexico.

Eight of the soldiers killed in the Iraq invasion thus far were immigrants.

Some 37,000 men and women–or about 3 percent of the total active duty force–are non-citizens. Many immigrants enter the military in the hopes it will speed up citizenship applications.

US Senators Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss have announced they will introduce legislation to grant immediate citizenship to some immigrant soldiers who serve in the Gulf. But it will apply only to those who die in combat.

In response, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony is urging President Bush to award immediate citizenship to all immigrant troops serving in the Persian Gulf. He said: "There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battle field to earn citizenship."

We are joined now by Tod Tamberg, spokesman the Cardinal Roger Mahony, Sylvia Moreno of the Washington Post and George Rincon, father of 19 year-old Diego Rincon who was killed March 29 in Iraq.

  • George Rincon, father of the late Diego Rincon, soldier who was granted citizenship after being killed in Iraq.
  • Sylvia Moreno, reporter for the Washington Post. Wrote article 'For Immigrants, a Special Sacrifice.'
  • Tod Tamberg, spokesman for Cardinal Roger Mahoney of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
  • Dan Kane, spokesman for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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