Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What About Immigration?

Now, first let me say that I do believe the US does need to deal with a growing immigration and labor problem, and the sooner the better. That said, the marches over the last few days should be a wake up call to everyone. No matter what your position has been regarding immigration, we all would be wise to take a step back and absorb all of the factors and possible alternatives before jumping on the Lou Dobbs Express.

First, let me take a detour and tell you a little about two soldiers in Iraq...
On March 21, near the Iraqi port town of Umm Qasr, 28-year-old Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez was one of several U.S. soldiers who, as required by the Geneva Convention, motioned to accept the surrender of a group of Iraqi "soldiers" who had just raised a white flag. When Gutierrez and several other comrades were exposed, the Iraqis suddenly opened fire, killing him and several comrades.

On March 27, near the Iraqi city of An Nasiriyah, 21-year-old Marine Corps Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay also motioned to accept the surrender of Iraqis. But what had happened to Lance Cpl. Gutierrez now happened to Cpl. Garibay. It was no surrender, but an ambush, and Cpl. Garibay lost his life. ...(
Both of these soldiers died within the very first week of the war in Iraq, but what makes their deaths all too important to the immigration debate today is this...
The sacrifice of these young men is no different than that made by any of the other young Americans who have given "the last full measure" in this or any other war, except in one, very noteworthy respect – at the time they died, neither was an American. Gutierrez was born in Guatemala and when he was 14, entered this country as an illegal immigrant. Garibay was born in Mexico and moved here as a child. Neither man was a citizen at the time of their deaths.
And they weren't the only ones either...
Even though his coffin was draped with the American flag, U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Riayan Tejeda, 26, was not a U.S.citizen. Tejeda, who was killed in combat in Iraq, was a native of the Dominican Republic. (...)

There is no law prohibiting illegal immigrants from joining in the army but the armed forces representative says anyone without proper documents is rejected, according to a report in the New York Times.

Tejeda and at least six other U.S. servicemen killed in the war in Iraq had not yet become citizens. Six of these immigrants were granted citizenship posthumously but their relatives did not receive the benefits that would normally go to the families of the citizens. (...)

More than 36,000 service members are non-citizens, making up about 5 percent of active duty service members. About a third come from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries and the rest are from China, Vietnam, Canada, Korea, India and other countries. ...(more)
These men died for us.

They died serving for our country, and they were not US citizens at the time.

Jose Gutierrez was the first soldier to die in Iraq. He also was an illegal immigrant, and a US Marine who died serving this country.

5 percent of active duty service members are immigrants who are not yet US citizens.

That ought to factor into this debate somewhere, and prominently so, IMO.


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