For wounded soldier, citizenship is 'icing on the cake'
Alcivar, 25, was sworn in as a United States citizen on Friday, some 20 years after coming to the United States, four years after joining the Army, and months after a sniper outside Baghdad, Iraq, shot him in the leg.
At any given time, roughly 40,000 noncitizens serve in the U.S. armed forces, according to immigration officials. While Congress feuds over many immigration issues, it has been easing the path to citizenship for lawful noncitizens who are serving in the military. The government has naturalized 46,465 servicemembers since September 2001, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Alcivar said he joined the military because he loved the country, not because he saw it as a path to citizenship. He was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived in the United States since he was 5. Alcivar said he always considered himself an American.
While enlisting into the army is generally seen as a sacrifice for "our" country, many don't realize that several of those in uniform are not actually citizens of the U.S. While they may consider this their country, it has yet to be verified by the legal paperwork.
This was the case for Juan Luis Alvicar, having lived in the United States since he was five after moving from the Dominican Republic. He was motivated by a desire to serve his country.
But for many, the main motivation stems from a desire to quicken the process to citizenship. I recently read another story on this issue, as the first American death in Iraq was actually an undocumented Mexican immigrant, who was then granted post-humous citizenship. There has been some controversy surrounding the United States deciding to lure people to enlist with the promise of citizenship. Some groups in opposition claim it puts young immigrants on the front lines, and that these young adults are "more disposable" to the United States.