Thursday, March 20, 2014

Senator Michael Bennet Extends Welcome To New Citizens

Fort Carson, CO – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed a group of 13 soldiers and family members of soldiers as they became American citizens during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony held at Fort Carson. 

The new American citizens hail from all over the world including Colombia, Haiti, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, China, Philippines, South Korea, Togo, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

“These individuals have bravely served and sacrificed for this country.  It is a special and exciting moment to see them as they become a part of the fabric of this great nation,” Bennet said. “We are a nation of immigrants, and these ceremonies remind us of the important contributions immigrants make to our communities.”

“It is also a reminder that we have to continue working to fix our broken immigration system to ensure that we are welcoming the best and brightest into America and that we make it possible for other immigrants to share in this momentous experience.”

As a member of the “gang of 8” that co-authored the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year, Bennet has been actively involved in crafting immigration policy and working to fix our broken system.  In Colorado, he brought farmers, ranchers, law enforcement agencies, faith leaders, and Latino advocates together to craft a set of principles called the Colorado Compact.  The Compact helped inform work in the “gang of 8.”

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon foreign citizens or nationals after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress. After naturalization, foreign-born citizens enjoy nearly all the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities that the Constitution gives to native-born U.S. citizens, including the right to vote.

Naturalization for military members and their families is expedited.  Over the last decade, roughly 93,000 members of the armed forces have become U.S. citizens.  Unfortunately, the Valenzuela Brothers, from Colorado, who fought in the Viet Nam war have been unable to naturalize.  The current law refuses to over-look the contribution veterans have made to the country in relationship to their record after leaving the service.  Many Viet Nam veterans, for example, were severely traumatized by the insanity of in-theater fighting.  After returning home, they fell astray of the law.   The current law makes little exception for immigrant soldiers.

Meanwhile, President Obama continues his record of deportations far exceeding the Bush/Cheney numbers.  Latinos are unhappy with the President for his refusal to sign an executive order halting deportations in lieu of his inability to bring lawmakers together on immigration reform.  Even some Latino leaders disagree on the executive order.  If left as the status quo, it would leave immigrants in a never-ending second- class-citizen limbo in which they never have a say in the government that controls them, while always being subject to loss of status each time a president takes office.  An executive order would at least stop the dismantling of families.

Republican lawmakers are pushing for a piecemeal solution to immigration which will increase immigrants in the high tech sector, presumably lowering the cost of labor.  They blame the Democrats for holding piecemeal measures up in the U.S. House of Representatives pending a vote on the entire immigration package.  However, a few House Republicans are holding up a harsh, re-written, version of of the U.S. Senate bill which would likely pass if key Republicans would allow it.  Hence, Republicans might do better to point fingers at their own party leadership for the failure to vote on an immigration package which will identify most people in the country, thus making America more secure.

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