Over the holiday break I’ve been working my way through Decision Points, the recently-released memoirs of President George W. Bush. Something in particular caught my attention: on pages 263-264 President Bush relates an experience in which he met with Sergeant Guadalupe Denogean in 2003. Denogean had been seriously injured and President Bush asked him if he had any requests. Denogean answered that he would like two things: 1) a promotion for the soldier who had saved his life, and 2) to become an American citizen. Denogean was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a small boy and was not a U.S. citizen.
President Bush then writes that he was proud to attend the naturalization ceremony of Sgt. Denogean that was held right there in the hospital. He also writes:
“After 9/11, I had issued an executive order making all foreign nationals serving in the military eligible for immediate citizenship.” (pg. 264)
I commend President Bush for his commitment to providing an opportunity for legalization and citizenship for those who are willing to put on an American uniform and die for the United States of America. Unfortunately, this stands in stark contrast to most Senate Republicans and five Senate Democrats who recently voted down the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. willing to serve their country by going to college or serve in the military for two years.
All in all, I commend President Bush for his inclusive and forward-thinking approach to immigration in general throughout his administration. It’s a shame that his comprehensive immigration reform bill was never able to make it out of Congress.