Congressman James Sensenbrenner, who feels that America can do absolutely fine without any immigration at all – at least that’s the impression he left after a recent appearance on "Meet the Press" – should check out the Web site of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (www.uscis.gov), and check out some of the new U.S. citizen stories the site regularly features.
Maybe then he’d change his mind and realize that immigrants can and do contribute to U.S. society – why, they even fight our wars when asked.
Here are a few stories from the site that show just what the immigrant spirit means to this country – and, hopefully, will continue to mean in the future:
In December, 2004, USCIS Director Eduardo Aguirre swore in Army Sergeant Manuel Mendoza as a United States citizen in a private ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Surrounded by his family, senior Army officials, and many of the doctors, nurses, and medical staff treating him for serious injuries sustained in combat in Iraq, Sergeant Mendoza raised his right hand to take the Oath of Allegiance to fulfill his long held dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“I had been in this country for a long time and have been proud to be a legal resident,” Mendoza explained. “I have served this country, and I am proud to defend this great country. It is a great honor to serve this country.”
He was injured in Iraq on October 3, 2004, by a roadside blast from an improvised explosive device that caused a vehicle rollover, resulting in the loss of his two legs. He arrived at Walter Reed a week later for treatment, which he describes as “going great.”
When he was four years old, Mendoza moved to Boonville, California, with his family from his native Mexico. After growing up in the lush vineyard region of Mendocino County, he joined the Army, attracted by the educational opportunities the military offered. “I joined for the college option, but stayed in because of my pride of serving.
Sgt. Mendoza enlisted in January 2000 as a combat engineer, and was first stationed at Fort Drum, New York, with the 41st Engineers followed by an assignment with the 2nd Engineers at Camp Castle, Korea. His most recent assignment was with the 58th Combat Engineer Company, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Irwin, Calif., which deployed to Iraq in support of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
And another inspiring story, Mr. Sensenbrenner:
Shortly after his birth in 1973, Dong G. Nguyen's parents and his nine brothers and sisters fled Vietnam and came to the United States as refugees from their war-torn nation. Describing the challenges his close-knit family faced when they first arrived here, Mr. Nguyen recalled, "We were refugees in a new country with nothing but hope for a better life. My parents raised my brothers and sisters on a job that paid $3.15 an hour. Through hard work and a strong faith we were able to build a better life for ourselves."
Inspired by his parent's tireless work ethic, Mr. Nguyen graduated from the Kansas University School of Pharmacy at age 23, and became a registered pharmacist. Settling in Lenexa, Kansas, Dong married his college sweetheart and started a family of his own and has three young daughters.
At a special ceremony in Kansas City during Citizenship Day, Nguyen, now 32, became a U.S. Citizen. "This is the only place that I have lived in and I'm happy to finally be able to call it my home," Nguyen remarked. "I am thankful for the opportunity this great country has granted me, and will do my best to assist if ever asked by our government. With a strong faith in God and hard work, anything is possible. This is truly a land of opportunity."