Immigrant Troops to Get U.S. Citizenship at White House

Immigrant Troops to Get U.S. Citizenship at White House

"When Oscar Vanegas Gonzalez gets his U.S. citizenship today at a ceremony hosted by President Barack Obama, the accomplishment will reflect the complexities of U.S. immigration policy.

While the Obama administration is now working to stop Central American kids from sneaking into the U.S. without papers or their parents, that’s how Gonzalez, now 27, arrived in the U.S. after leaving Guatemala at 16.

In the years that followed, he was embraced by a foster family, obtained residency status, and became fluent in English. He graduated from high school, learned electrical wiring and, last year, joined the Marines -- a move that expedited his citizenship.

Gonzalez is one of 25 current or former servicemembers, or spouses, from 15 countries who will become citizens at the White House, an Independence Day event Obama has hosted every year of his presidency except 2011.

“It’s a very sensitive subject for me -- I wish I had the right words to explain how I feel,” Gonzalez said. “We are not all bad,” he said of undocumented immigrants. “I was given a chance to be who I am now. I’m thankful for everything.”

That thousands of immigrants are eager to serve has been welcomed by a president grappling with Republican lawmakers unwilling to vote for legislation resolving the status of 11 million undocumented residents in the U.S." - Margaret Talev, Bloomberg News, July 4,2014.