Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
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Soldiers were required to complete three years of active service before applying for citizenship, but last July, President Bush issued an order making them immediately eligible. It was billed as a reward to those serving during the post-Sept. 11 war on terrorism.
From his Army recruiting office tucked in a suburban San Francisco shopping center - alongside stores selling Asian groceries and serving up Vietnamese noodles - Sgt. 1st Class Rodolfo Abalos said the quick path to naturalization is already emerging as a useful recruiting tool.
"That's another thing we can offer, especially to Asians who want to become citizens," said Abalos, who was born in the Philippines and tells potential recruits about his own experience becoming an American citizen a decade ago while serving in the Army.
"I tell them about how they can get the citizenship a lot faster joining the Army, compared to being a civilian and waiting for five years."
Beyond citizenship, many immigrants join the military for the same reasons others do - for college funding, new skills, travel and a desire to serve their country, Abalos said.
Sgt. Peniel Saintfleur, who came to the United States from Haiti when he was 11, applied for citizenship a few months ago because he plans to pursue a career in the Army, and non-citizens are permitted to serve for only eight years.
The Army "is like a family," said Saintfleur, 24, a personnel administration specialist at the Dallas Recruiting Battalion in Irving, Texas. "If a person is willing to die for the country, I think that should be enough to become a citizen."
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