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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 24, 2006

Fact Sheet: Honoring Immigrant Members of America's Armed Services

      President Bush Attends Naturalization Ceremony
      In Focus: Immigration

Today, President Bush Attended A Naturalization Ceremony For Three Members Of The Armed Forces. These brave troops - all of whom have been injured while serving in the War on Terror - were eligible for immediate naturalization because of an Executive Order the President signed after September 11, 2001. The three troops who became citizens are Army Specialist Sergio Lopez, Army Private First Class Eduardo Leal-Cardenas, and Army Specialist "Lito" Santos-Delone.

America Is Stronger And More Dynamic When We Welcome New Citizens Like These Service Members

There Is No More Fitting Way To Demonstrate Appreciation For The Brave Actions Of Non-Citizen Troops Than By Granting Qualified Service Members U.S. Citizenship As Quickly As Possible. More than 33,000 non-citizens currently serve in our military, putting their lives on the line to defend liberties and freedoms they have yet to secure for themselves. The President believes those willing to risk their lives for our democracy should be full participants in our democracy.

As Our Nation Debates The Future Of Our Immigration Policies, We Must Remember The Contribution Of These Men And Women. The President believes America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. He supports comprehensive immigration reform that will secure our borders, create a temporary worker program, make it easier for employers to verify employment eligibility and continue to hold them to account for the legal status of workers they hire, deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here, and honor the great American tradition of the melting pot.

After September 11, 2001, President Bush Signed Executive Order 13269 Making Foreign-Born Members Of Our Military Eligible For Immediate Naturalization.

Since September 11, 2001, More Than 26,000 Service Men And Women In The U.S. And Overseas Have Been Naturalized. During 2005, more than 6,000 military service members were naturalized, including 1,006 service members naturalized overseas during ceremonies in Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Spain, the United Kingdom and in the Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

While Military Service Members Are Exempt From Many Naturalization Requirements Outlined In The INA, They Must Meet Certain Requirements And Qualifications To Become A U.S. Citizen. These include:

Biographies Of The Three Naturalized Soldiers

Specialist Noe Santos-Dilone, Originally From The Dominican Republic: Specialist Santos, 21, of Brooklyn, New York, was injured on September 6, 2005, on a mission north of Baghdad traveling in a four-vehicle convoy. His humvee was leading the convoy and was hit by an Explosively Formed Projectile triggered by a laser. The driver and passenger were killed in action and a third passenger sustained serious injuries. Specialist Santos-Dilone's injuries included having his left leg amputated up to the hip. He was a member of the Headquarters Headquarters Company Division Support Brigade with the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. He is presently assigned to Medical Hold Company in Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Specialist Sergio Lopez, Originally From Mexico: Specialist Lopez, 24, of Bowlingbrook, Illinois, joined the Army in January of 2003 and is a member of the 1st Battalion 12th Infantry Regiment 4th Brigade Combat Team out of the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. He was hit by an IED on January 4, 2006, while driving a humvee on a mission south of Baghdad. The force of the blast shattered both his legs. When he returned home on January 11, 2006, he made the difficult decision to have both legs amputated and is now undergoing physical therapy to learn how to walk using prosthetic legs.

Private First Class Eduardo Leal-Cardenas, Originally From Mexico: PFC Cardenas, 21, of Los Angeles, California, was injured by an IED on December 6, 2005, returning to the base from a mission just south of Baghdad. The blast shattered the bones in both legs, broke his femur, broke his ribs, broke his back and neck. He was thrown out of the vehicle and his company returned fire and were engaged in small arms fire for limited time. The enemy was eliminated, and he was then picked up by a medical helicopter and taken to the U.S. Army hospital in Baghdad. He is close to returning to duty at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He is a member of the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion 502.

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