Bush: Attends citizenship ceremony at Army medical center to bolster prospects of stalled immigration bill.

SHARE Bush: Attends citizenship ceremony at Army medical center to bolster prospects of stalled immigration bill.
SHARE Bush: Attends citizenship ceremony at Army medical center to bolster prospects of stalled immigration bill.

“We must resolve the status of millions of illegal immigrants who are here already,” President Bush said Monday morning, as he continues to push for the House and Senate to make a deal on a broad immigration bill.

But the House GOP leaders are holding firm–and do not want to negotiate a deal allowing a guest worker program and a process to legalize the status of millions in the U.S. illegally.

Give Bush credit for trying.


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release July 24, 2006



Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Washington, D.C.

10:12 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Thanks for letting me come back, General, proud to be here. I’m really looking forward to witnessing what is going to be a very uplifting ceremony.

In a few moments, these men will swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America. As part of the ceremony they will promise to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This isn’t going to be the first time these men have made such a promise. They took a similar oath when they became soldiers of the United States Army. And their presence here bears witness that they kept their word so that others might be free.

I appreciate General Farmer, and I want to thank all the folks who work here. I’m incredibly impressed by the health care and the decency and the compassion of the people who work here at Walter Reed. You bring great credit to our country. I can’t tell you the number of times when I travel around America that I brag about Walter Reed and the health care you deliver.

I appreciate Dr. Emilio Gonzalez, who will be administering the oath of office. He’s the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He’s the head guy who came over to deliver the oath. (Laughter.)

I want to thank Colonel Deal ane everybody else. I particularly want to say thanks to the families of these three men. Thank you for joining us today.

Through the generations, our nation has remained strong and free because men and women put on our uniform and defend this country, and defend our beliefs. The three men we honor today have brought honor to America. Like those who have come before, each of these men chose to protect our country because they love what America stands for.

Army Specialist Sergio Lopez had always wanted to join the Army, and in 2003, he volunteered. After basic training he moved to Fort Hood, Texas, home of the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division. Specialist Lopez then deployed to Iraq. He put his life on the line each day, driving between observation posts and his unit’s forward operating base in the Baghdad area. In January, he was injured by an improvised explosive device.

Specialist Lopez says that becoming a citizen, “represents being acknowledged as having done my duty, having done my part for the country, like the oath says, defending the United States.”

Today, we honor Army Private First Class Eduardo Leal-Cardenas. He was injured when an IED blew up his vehicle in Iraq. Private Leal-Cardenas is a man of few words, and he’s a man of action. When some questioned whether he would ever walk again, he laughed, and he began his rehab while still in his bed. When Private Leal-Cardenas is asked what citizenship in America means to him, he just said one word: Freedom.

And finally, we honor Army Specialist Lito Santos-Dilone. He was injured while serving as part of the protection detail in Iraq. I first met Specialist Santos-Dilone at this year’s National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. I was working the rope line. He grabbed my hand, and he said, “I’m not a citizen of the United States and I want to be one.” Now, here’s a man who knows how to take it directly to the top. (Laughter.) I’m proud to be here when he gets sworn in.

We are stronger and more dynamic when we welcome new citizens like these. More than 33,000 non-U.S. citizens currently serve in our military. Isn’t that interesting — 33,000 people who weren’t born here serve in our military. And just like everybody else who wears the uniform, they understand the stakes of what it means to serve in the United States military, particularly after September the 11th, 2001.

After that date, I signed an executive order making foreign-born members of our military immediately eligible for U.S. citizenship when they serve on active duty. It made sense to me. If somebody is willing to risk their life for our country, they ought to be full participants in our country.

As our nation debates the future of our immigration policies, we must remember the contribution of these good men, and all who dream of contributing to this country’s future. It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes and leave their families and risk everything to come to America. Their talent and hard work and love of freedom have helped make America the leader of the world. And our generation will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hopeful society this world has ever known.

I believe this country can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We’re going to enforce our laws, but we’ll also honor our proud immigrant heritage. I support a comprehensive immigration reform that will accomplish five clear objectives. First, we’ll secure our borders. Second, we must create a temporary worker program that provides foreign workers a legal and orderly way to come into the country and do jobs Americans aren’t doing. We must hold employers to account for the workers they hire. In other words, it’s against the law to hire an illegal immigrant, and we’re going to hold employers to account.

We must resolve the status of millions of illegal immigrants who are here already. We shouldn’t be granting people automatic citizenship, nor is it possible to kick people out of the country. There’s got to be a rational way, and I proposed a way forward. And, finally, we’ve got to honor the great American tradition of the melting pot by helping newcomers assimilate into our society.

Congress is now considering legislation on immigration reform; that legislation must be comprehensive. All elements of the problem must be addressed together, or none of them will be solved at all.

This is a joyful day for these men, and it’s a joyful day for me to be here with them. And it’s a proud day for our nation. We gain three new citizens today, men who knew the cost of freedom and are willing to pay that cost so others can live free. It’s a privilege to be their Commander-in-Chief, and I look forward to calling them fellow citizens.

I want to congratulate you for your achievement. I want to thank you for your service. I ask for God’s blessings on you and your family, and for God’s blessings on the United States of America.

And now we’ll have the oath of citizenship administered. (Applause.)

END 10:24 A.M.



Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release July 24, 2006

Honoring Immigrant Members Of America’s Armed Services

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.

Non-Citizen Members Of The U.S. Military Can Receive Immediate Naturalization Through Active Duty Service During Periods Of Military Hostilities. Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows non-citizens to receive immediate naturalization through their active duty service in the Armed Forces during periods of military hostilities, if the President designates by Executive Order that the armed services are or were engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force.

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:

Demonstrating good moral character;

Demonstrating knowledge of the English language;

Demonstrating knowledge of U.S. government and history; and

Taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution much like the oath they took when they became members of the U.S. armed forces.

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-Dilones 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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