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Immigrant Veterans Become US Citizens


Last week, a federal judge in College Station, Texas administered the oath of US citizenship to 47 immigrants who are currently serving in the US military. The event was held at the Bush Presidential Library, on the campus of Texas A&M University, and former President George Herbert Walker Bush took part in the ceremony.

Sergeant Rosa Weston came to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago and has served in the US Army for the past five years. But until this day she was not a citizen.

At the Bush Library ceremony, Rosa Weston and the other immigrant soldiers, sailors and airmen were greeted by former President Bush and Eduardo Aguirre, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security-who called special attention to her service.

"Born in Mexico, Sergeant Weston is a fine example of self-sacrifice. She just recently returned from a tour of service in Iraq. She returned to her two sons, Alex, age twelve, and Edward, age nine. This single mom of two young boys did her duty and went overseas into harm's way," says Eduardo Aguirre.

More than half of the new citizens in this group had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The former president, who served as a Navy pilot in World War Two praised the dedication and service of these new citizens.

"To those gathered here today and so many more who are not here, 'duty, honor, country' is not merely a slogan but rather it is a timeless creed of service by which they live their lives," says former president Bush.

Later, in a news conference, Mr. Bush said he had been deeply moved by the ceremony.

"This was a very emotional service. To see these people who are serving their country now becoming American citizens, I tell you, the tears began to flow. There is something so fundamental about this, something so strong for our country about this," says former president Bush.

The military men and women who became citizens at this ceremony were born in 27 nations. Army Specialist Chi Sung, who also served a tour in Iraq, came to the United States from South Korea at the age of 15. "I feel great. I was ready for several years and now I can follow my dreams," he says.

US Air Force Airman Fernanda Fernandez Horn, came from Brazil at the age of 11 and is now married to a US Citizen. For her, this ceremony signified her full entry into what she calls "the American family."

"I feel like I am part of the family now. I have been here all these years. They have given me so much. The Air Force has given me so much and I feel like giving something back. Now I just feel 100 percent part of the family," she says.

There are currently around 45,000 non-citizens serving in the US Armed Forces. More than 50 non-citizens have died in combat over the past few years. Under new rules, citizenship procedures are expedited for immigrants serving in the military and some 16,000 members of the armed forces have been naturalized in the past two years.

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