U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Task Force on Immigration, was among elected officials at an April press conference introducing a new bill granting automatic U.S. citizenship to non-citizen solders called up for combat duty in the recent war against Iraq.
Gutierrez said that in Iraq and past wars, non-citizen solders have fought to defend the U.S. Despite these sacrifices, many are forced to wait several years before gaining U.S. citizenship. Others only get this status after they have already lost their lives on the battlefield.
The bill would also allow immediate family members of servicemen and women to receive expedited processing of their immigration status.
Currently there are more than 37,000 legal permanent residents serving in the military and approximately 7,000 non-citizens join the armed forces each year.