Cornyn Legislation To Accelerate Citizenship Process For Non-citizens In The Military Passes Senate


In: All News   Posted 06/04/2003
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Senators to add the Naturalization and Family Protection for Military Members Act of 2003 (S.1050) to the Defense Authorization Act Wednesday. Cornyn is an original co-sponsor of the bill, and the author of The Military Citizenship Act, which was the basis of the amendment. "I am proud to support this amendment because I believe it fulfills a critical responsibility to welcome those who fight and die for our nation,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor. “These brave immigrant soldiers are taking on the uniform of our nation, serving under the flag of our nation, and fighting the enemies of our nation. It is only right that they should be welcomed as citizens of our nation.” the legislation expedites the naturalization process for the men and women serving in the U.S. military who are not citizens. The legislation makes it faster and easier for such soldiers to become U.S. citizens as many of them fight and even die to defend their adopted country, and the freedom it represents. Cornyn continued, “We must always remember that our own freedom was not won without cost, but bought and paid for with the sacrifices of generations. We must honor the heroic dead, for their courage and their tireless commitment to the dream that is freedom. And we must honor the worthy heroes who fight for us today, and embrace them as our fellow citizens. Currently, legal permanent residents may become U.S. citizens after serving three years in the military, passing civics and English proficiency tests, and paying immigration fees required for citizenship. During time of war, the three-year waiting period for military personnel is waived by an Executive Order of President Bush. In order to address the requirement for peacetime, however, the bill shortens the time of service required before naturalization from three to two years. Provisions in the bill also provide posthumous benefits to surviving spouses, children and parents. the Naturalization and Family Protection for Military Members Act of 2003 is a version of the bipartisan Military Citizenship Act introduced by Cornyn in April. It passed by unanimous consent and now moves to a conference with the House of Representatives. Cornyn was also successful in including language from the original bill in the Committee Report of the Defense Authorization Act.-Text of Sen. Cornyn’s floor speech follows -Floor Statement of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn the Naturalization and Family Protection for Military Members Act of 2003 wednesday, June 04, 2003Mr. President, I rise today to say a few words about this amendment, the Naturalization and Family Protection for Military Members Act of 2003. in every war our nation has fought, from the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom, brave immigrants have fought alongside American-born citizens. They have fought with distinction and courage – twenty percent of the recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest honor for war heroes, have been immigrants. One in 10 active-duty military personnel call Texas their home, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am dedicated to looking out for their interests and the interests of all military personnel… including immigrants. And that is why I introduced the Military Citizenship Act, a bill that will expedite the naturalization process for the nearly 37,000 men and women serving in our armed forces who are not U.S. citizens. I believe there is no better way to honor the heroism and sacrifice of those who serve than to offer them the American citizenship they deserve. I am proud to support this amendment, because I believe it fulfills a critical responsibility to welcome those who fight for our nation, and help those immigrants become naturalized citizens, providing their families easy access to naturalization and family immigration protections. Just take a look at this chart to see the kind of confused process that immigrant service members must endure in order to even be considered for citizenship. It’s a sea of red tape spaghetti, needless bureaucracy, and ridiculous administrative requirements. It’s time to do away with this sort of thing once and for all. We must streamline this process, and make it one that welcomes immigrant service members for their bravery and sacrifice, not one that deters them from becoming citizens. I thank my distinguished colleagues for supporting this bill, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Warner for including language in the Defense Authorization Act which directs the Department of Defense to determine if any additional measures can be taken to assist the naturalization of qualified service members and their families. and I strongly support the action of the President, retroactive to September 11, 2001, to exempt military members from the requirement to have served three years on active duty before applying for citizenship. we must always remember that our own freedom was not won without cost, but bought and paid for with the sacrifices of generations. We must honor the heroic dead, for their courage and their tireless commitment to the dream that is freedom. And we must honor the worthy heroes who fight for us today, and embrace them as our fellow citizens. in 1944, Winston Churchill spoke in Royal Albert Hall to the British and the American troops, and reminded them of the greater cause they served, regardless of the bounds of nations or cultures. “We are joined together in this union of action which has been forced upon us by our common hatred of tyranny,” he said, “shedding our blood side by side, struggling for the same ideals, until the triumph of the great causes which we serve shall be made manifest… Then, indeed, there will be a day of thanksgiving, one in which all the world will share.” in Iraq, the brave men and women of our armed forces fought against those who hate our nation. They hate us because we believe “that all men are created equal” – regardless of their nation of birth. They hate us because we believe in the God-given rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – rights that extend to all mankind. They hate us because we still say “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” these brave immigrant soldiers are taking on the uniform of our nation, serving under the flag of our nation, and fighting the enemies of our nation. It is only right that they should be welcomed as citizens of our nation.