21 April 2011

Citizenship Boot Camp for Immigrants? Sort Of...

The Army and Navy are adding a new curriculum to initial entry training, allowing immigrant recruits to earn their citizenship while in training.

Military service has long been one route to U.S. citizenship. Now the Army and Navy, in need of specialists and language skills in wartime, are speeding things up by allowing recruits to wrap up the process while they're still in basic training.
It means a change in a no-visitors policy during boot camp, to allow federal immigration officers access to the recruits. But military officials say it's a well-deserved break for volunteers who otherwise would have to slog through the bureaucratic ordeal during deployments around the world, often far from U.S. embassies.
The military route is not a short-cut for foreigners abroad to get into the U.S. Only legal immigrants can apply, officials stress, and they must complete five years of honorable service or chance having their citizenship revoked.
"The moment the Soviet Union broke up, I decided America was the place for me to be," said Spec. Rima Rusnac, 33, of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, just after taking her oath of citizenship recently. "In America, I can exercise my full potential and be free."
Rusnac, who holds a college degree in English and German, was finishing boot camp at Fort Jackson, the Army's largest training installation. She was headed for further training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, a skill that is at a premium because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As she spoke, eight other soldiers from countries including Iran, Haiti, Australia and Bangladesh celebrated and showed friends and family their new citizenship papers, just a day before they were all due to graduate from their 10 weeks of Army basic training.

By: Brant

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