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For Immediate Release                                 Tuesday April 29, 2003
Contact:  Jessica Gleason 202-225-5816       After hours: 202-225-4466


Judiciary Sets Hearing on Hastings Citizenship for Soldiers Bill

Washington, D.C. - The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration has agreed to hold a hearing on a bill recently introduced by Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA) that would make legal immigrants serving on active duty in America's armed forces immediately eligible for U.S. citizenship.  The hearing will be held on May 6th at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

"By volunteering to risk their lives to defend ours, legal immigrants serving in America's armed forces have truly earned their opportunity to become citizens," said Hastings who has introduced legislation (H.R. 1714) to waive multi-year waiting periods set in current law for legal immigrants seeking to become naturalized citizens.  "This hearing is a great opportunity to advance legislative efforts addressing this issue and I look forward to testifying about my bill."

According to the Department of Defense, an estimated 37,000 legal permanent residents are currently serving on active duty in our armed forces.  Hastings' proposal  would make it possible for every legal immigrant serving in America's armed forces, who otherwise meet all current requirements, to be made immediately eligible for citizenship. 

By eliminating 3-5 year residency requirements, waiving naturalization fees and enabling servicemen and women to be sworn in as citizens overseas, H.R. 1714 eliminates legal barriers to citizenship long faced by legal permanent residents serving in the armed forces.  In addition, Hastings' bill would revoke citizenship obtained by this means in the event an individual is discharged from service under other than honorable conditions. 

Other than waiving required waiting periods, Hastings' proposal would leave in place all existing conditions for citizenship, which require candidates to: 1) be of good moral character, 2) commit themselves to the principles of the Constitution, 3) demonstrate the ability to read, write, speak and understand English, and 4) pass a test on U.S. government and history.

"By enacting the Armed Forces Citizenship Act, America can do the right thing for some very brave men and women who are doing the right thing for America," Hastings said.

Currently, nineteen of Congressman Hastings' House colleagues have cosponsored  his bill, which has garnered bipartisan support. 



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Last modified: 04/29/03