View Full Version : Dozens of Marines in war on Iraq granted US citizenship

05-03-03, 06:19 AM
Dozens of marines in war on Iraq granted US citizenship

SAN DIEGO, California (AFP) May 02, 2003
Forty-three US marines from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln were declared US citizens Thursday, in the largest naturalization ceremony since the US-led war on Iraq began, military sources said.
The marines from 16 countries including Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador and Cuba were flown to the ceremony here from the aircraft carrier while US President George W. Bush, from the vessel, prepared to announce the end of the Iraq war.

"I believe that if you're serving the country, you need to be a citizen of the country," said Roosevelt Ulluoa, 22, an Ecuadoran-born marine.

"The United States gave me a lot of opportunity. I feel more a citizen of the US even though I didn't grow up here," Ulloa said, adding that he had wanted to be a US citizen since his arrival here at the age of 14.

"More than four dozen Navy personnel who have served the United States overseas will now, without caveat, call this country home," said Lauren Mack of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Following the ceremony in this southern California port city, the marines were flown back to the carrier -- which is due to sail into San Diego early Friday after a tour in the Gulf since last July.

Its mission is one of the longest since the Vietnam war.

Legal residents in the United States -- those holding a green card -- must stay here for at least five years before they can apply for citizenship, a process that often takes several more years. The five-year period is reduced to three for those already married to a US citizen.

All rights reserved. 2003 Agence France-Presse