Introduction Of The Kendall Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

Date: July 11, 2007
Location: Washington, DC


* Mr. CUMMINGS. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act of 2007, which will assist over 68,000 non-citizens serving in the U.S. military in their quest to become citizens of the United States. Their sacrifice on behalf of this Nation is great; therefore, those who protect our country as non-citizens should undoubtedly be able to quickly bypass unwarranted red tape when applying for citizenship.

* This legislation honors the memory of 21-year-old Army Reserve Spc. Kendell K. Frederick, a resident of Baltimore County and native of Trinidad who was stationed in Iraq when he made the decision to become a U.S. citizen. On October 19, 2005, after trying for more than a year to become a citizen and having his application delayed at least five times due to miscommunication and misinformation in the processing of his fingerprints, Kendell had no other choice but to travel with a convoy to a base to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, he was killed on the way by a roadside bomb, never realizing his dream of becoming an American citizen.

* Spc. Frederick died while trying to show his gratitude to this country, to a Nation that finally showed its appreciation far too late by awarding him citizenship posthumously. Surely, it did not have to be this way. This legislation corrects this wrong by removing unnecessary hurdles that our non-citizen armed service members have beenrequired to undergo in applying for citizenship along with ensuring that they are provided with assistance from the military and immigration officials, especially during their deployment. Specifically, the Act would assist our non-citizen men and women in uniform on the pathway to citizenship by making the following needed adjustments:

* requires the Department of Homeland Security use the fingerprints taken by the military at induction for citizenship applications;

* requires non-citizen military service members to submit their citizenship applications within 24 months of enlistment;

* requires the Department of Homeland Security to create a dedicated customer service 1-800 phone line for service members and their families to call with questions;

* requires the Department of Homeland Security to promptly update and revise its written and electronic citizenship application, instructions and guidebook within 30 days of any material change in the law or regulation; and

* ensures executive agency accountability to Congress by requiring a GAO report documenting how the Department of Homeland Security currently handles military service members' citizenship applications as well as the training that DHS personnel receive regarding military citizenship applications.

* Non-citizens are 5 percent of the total active duty U.S. military service members. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), between September 11, 2001 and December 2006, 84 non-citizen armed services members (including Spc. Frederick) killed in action have been awarded posthumous citizenship. For their sacrifice, these non-citizens more than deserve not to be entangled in overly burdensome bureaucratic red tape.

* Therefore, I urge my colleagues to support our troops by supporting this bill.