Honored to serve without citizenship
Here’s a stat that might surprise you: according to the Pentagon, there are anywhere between 29,000 – 38,000 undocumented immigrants currently serving in the United States military. Given the contentious rhetoric surrounding immigration, we should all take a deep breath and remember that many of those immigrants serving our country in combat are more likely to die for this country than they are to be made American citizens.
While military action in the Middle East is slowly drawing down, people sometimes forget (or were never aware of) the sacrifices that undocumented immigrants have made serving our country in combat. One of the first service members to die in Iraq Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, was an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala.
While not nearly enough of these heroes ever receive citizenship, there are some who receive this honor. Speaking at a White House naturalization ceremony over the 4th of July holiday, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano put it this way:
“We have a strong tradition as a welcoming nation, and our efforts ensure that the United States continues to draw people from across the world who contribute in important and innovative ways, I am proud to swear in these brave men and women who have come from all over the world to serve our country and become its newest citizens.”
Many in this country rightly believe that military service is the most patriotic of professions. While not everyone is compelled enough to serve, we can acknowledge that doing so requires incredible bravery, perhaps more so for those who are not citizens.
Read the full story at NBC Latino