As pointed out here, the first U.S. service member killed in the Iraq War was an immigrant from Guatemala.
The Marine profiled in this news story is from my mother’s home country of El Salvador, and he is not a U.S. citizen.
There are more than 20,000 “green-card warriors” in the U.S. military, and many of them are getting shot at in the Middle East. They fight under the U.S. flag, even as millions of citizens back home debate the best way to kick them out of the country.
It may surprise some people that non-citizens are allowed to fight in the U.S. military. But we have always embraced immigrants when they are convenient – when they can mow the lawn or take care of the babies or step up to be cannon fodder. After they have served their purpose, we give long speeches about how the sanctity of the nation demands that they be banished, and quickly before they take over.
Now, should a non-citizen die in combat, he or she receives automatic (albeit posthumous) citizenship. This has happened several times during this war. Nobody has protested this policy, because of course, a deceased Mexican-American will never move in next door to citizens and make them nervous. It seems to be our country’s way of saying, “Some of you have to die before we’ll agree that you’re fit to live among us. Ironic, isn’t it?”
Personally, I think anybody willing to face death in the service of America should get immediate citizenship upon induction, no paperwork needed. I have other ideas about the citizenship process, but that will have to wait for a future post.
Also, at some point I will go into detail about my personal stake in this story: My cousin was on his second deployment to Iraq before his citizenship papers came through. Again, I’ll talk more about him and his adventures in a future post.