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Public Statements

Immigrant Soldiers

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

IMMIGRANT SOLDIERS -- (House of Representatives - May 14, 2007)


Mr. BACA. Thank you very much, Mr. Gonzalez, for carrying this issue this afternoon, and thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to honor the more than 69,300 legal permanent residents who are currently serving in the United States Armed Services, which represents 43 percent noncitizens and 5 percent of the armed services who are serving now.

Their courage, their honor and their sacrifices prove what we've always known, that you don't have to be born in America to love America. Each and every person who serves in the Armed Forces generally loves his country and is willing to give their ultimate sacrifice. And these individuals gave their ultimate sacrifice for this country, for a dream of coming here.

Each individual was prepared to lay down his or her life to protect what is sacred to all of us, hope, freedom and opportunity, not only for them, but for all of us who believe in this country, because we know ultimately every person who has served in our military has been willing to lay down their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms, the freedoms that we have today. And the 69,300, 43 percent noncitizens, or 5 percent of the United States, believed in the same sacrifice as other individuals who have served us. They know that our freedom comes from men and women who are willing to serve this great Nation.

When I look at the names of immigrant soldiers who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan, it makes me realize why America is the greatest country in the world. And when we look at those individuals who served in World War II, the 500-some thousand, how many of those were noncitizens and immigrants?

And when we look at my district, or the State of California, 26 foreign-born soldiers from my State have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they come from all over the world. But whether they come from El Salvador, Korea, Mexico, Jamaica or Honduras, when they put on that United States military uniform, they do it as Americans and with pride.

Douglas Jose Marencoreyes, a young man from my district, was an immigrant to this country from Nicaragua. Corporal Marencoreyes came to this country with his family in search of opportunity and hope. Yet he was willing to serve in the Armed Forces when many others were not even willing to serve. And yet he found that by serving in the military that it was an honor.

The same goes for Sergeant Jorge Alberto Molinabautista, an immigrant from Mexico who lived in my hometown of Rialto, California. Both of these young men died while serving in the global war on terror. And they did so proudly, with honor, with honor for what they believed and what this country stands for, for the freedoms, so they know that their children and others can enjoy the freedoms that we have, because this is the greatest Nation, the greatest country; and they knew it and they served for this country.

Both men were posthumously awarded citizenship for their service to this Nation. Why? Because nothing would have honored the sacrifices more than to be recognized and acknowledge their love for this country.

Mr. Speaker, our country is currently engaged in a great debate regarding immigration. And there are many who want to diminish or even deny the great contributions of immigrants to our Nation's history, economy, and culture. And many of these have contributed and continue to contribute to our country because they believe in this country. They come here for hope, for freedom and opportunity and are willing to serve and die for this country.

But as we move forward in this debate, let us not forget the 69,300 immigrants soldiers out there in the battlefields, those who are willing to risk their lives every day to protect the same people who are criticizing them, the same people who are criticizing, they're willing to stand up and defend those individuals because they believe in the principles and the freedoms and opportunities of this country.

I urge the American people to support all troops, all individuals and the sacrifices of every one of our soldiers, regardless of where they were born, because at the end of the day they are willing to give their lives for this country and to sacrifice for this country. Each one of them are patriots and are true American heroes.


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