"If you are willing to fight and die for America, you should be able to become an American."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today celebrated the Senate immigration bill's incorporation of her legislation that will make it easier for military service members to become U.S. citizens. The legislation demands better coordination among U.S. immigration and military officials.
"There are over 40,000 non-U.S. citizens serving in the military today. Many are on the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world, fighting terrorists," said Senator Mikulski. "They are focused on fighting the enemy. They shouldn't also have to fight the bureaucracy just to become a citizen of the country they are fighting for."
Senator Mikulski initially introduced the legislation as the Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act in December 2005, to honor fallen Maryland soldier U.S. Army Spc. Kendell Frederick. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Spc. Frederick, 21, of Randallstown, Md., was derailed by a number of bureaucratic errors in becoming a citizen. He was killed on October 19, 2005, by a roadside bomb as he traveled in a convoy to a base to get fingerprinted in order to process his citizenship application. A citizen of Trinidad, Spc. Frederick tried for more than a year to become a U.S. citizen. His application was delayed several times due to miscommunication and misinformation from the U.S. government. He was granted U.S. citizenship a week after he died.
"Kendell wanted to become an American citizen, yet a series of bureaucratic screw-ups and unnecessary hurdles prevented that and cost him his life. The system failed - again and again, and a wonderful young man lost his life," said Senator Mikulski. "Service members and their families should not be worrying about what box to check on a citizenship application, which of many addresses is the right address to mail it to or where to get fingerprints taken when the service member is fighting for America. If you are willing to fight and die for America, you should be able to become an American."
The opinions expressed in this article represent the views of Senator Barbara Mikulski, or the specific person or organization that is quoted. Senator Mikulski is one of two federal senators for the state of Maryland. She is classified as a Class III Senator. Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class-approximately one-third of the Senators-face election or reelection. Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2007, Class II in 2009, and Class III in 2011.
Ms. Mikulski's website is located at http://mikulski.senate.gov/. Her office can be reached at (202) 224-4654. More biographical info on Ms. Mikulski can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Mikulski.