Ten men stood at attention January 31 during a Family Day ceremony at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. The ceremony was the fourth such program at the boot camp this year. Military families are often proud to attend graduation ceremonies after a recruit makes it through basic training and officially becomes a member of the U.S. armed forces. But, the January 31, 2013 Family Day ceremony for the ten new Marines was not a graduation ceremony, but a naturalization ceremony.
Proud families watched as a loved one was presented not only as a new U.S. Marine, but also as a new United States citizen. Each of the recruits sought to be Marines after coming from a different country to find new opportunities in the United States. Each also decided to seek U.S. citizenship through a law authorized by the federal government after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The U.S. government created special provisions under the Immigration and Nationality Act that authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to expedite the naturalization process for specified service members. Generally, the provisions allowing for the expedited process apply to many current and recently discharged service members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Marines began allowing recruits to seek citizenship while going through boot camp this year. The Army began a naturalization program that runs during basic training in 2009. The Navy has a similar program, which began in 2010. The Marine Corps naturalization ceremony was added during boot camp this year.
The naturalization process can be a long road for noncitizens who seek citizenship under U.S. immigration law. While the public debate currently is focused upon the hopes that meaningful immigration reform can be accomplished in the near future, many noncitizens continue to pursue legal status through current immigration law. Florida residents who are grappling with immigration issues should consider seeking the advice of a Miami and Jacksonville immigration and naturalization law attorney.
Source: The Marine Corps Times, “Marines can become U.S. citizens at boot camp,” Gina Harkins, Feb. 5, 2013