Sen. John McCain remembered the “Green Card Soldiers” who died for our Nation during his S.744 Gang of Eight Immigration Reform Speech today.
He recalled when he went overseas to attend a ceremony of soldiers who were re-enlisting in our Armed Forces during war — and he specifically recalled the green card soldiers who were risking their lives to become a United States citizen of this great Nation. He was moved when he saw 4 empty seats with empty boots of 4 green card soldiers who paid the final price and before becoming a citizen of the United States.
As a veteran of the Armed Forces who served my country honorably as a bomb dog handler during Gulf War I era, I was especially moved and grateful Sen. McCain remembered our green card soldiers. Although I was born in Texas, I remember serving with green card soldiers and was moved when they told me they were willing to risk their lives for our Nation.
In my opinion, the green card soldiers are no different than the slaves who took arms and fought during the Civil War when slavery used to be legal. Those who risk their lives for this Nation proves many are willing to die for the American dream. Indeed we see many people who pay the final price when they die in the desert.
Veteran and former Prisoner of war Senator McCain urges his fellow Senators to support this legal immigration reform bill because as he said, “This legislation will give us a secure border.”
In a Web ad released on Memorial Day, Sen. John McCain praises the many Hispanic soldiers serving in the U.S. military, some of whom are not yet legal citizens of the United States.
“My friends, I want you, the next time you’re down in Washington, D.C., to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite,” McCain begins. “You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names.
“When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you’re going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background.
“You’re even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they’re willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.
“So let’s, from time to time, remember that these are God’s children. They must come into this country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.”
We checked with the Defense Department to see how many noncitizens are serving in the U.S. military, and if McCain was accurate that there are thousands serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The short answer is that McCain is right.
As of Feb. 29, 2008, there were 20,328 noncitizens on active duty in the military (about 1.5 percent of the entire active military), according to a report provided by the Pentagon. Of those, 4,112 were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in support of those operations elsewhere. There were another 2,236 whose citizenship was “unknown.”