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News | March 24, 2017

Naturalization and Immigration Day

By Adam Sitte, Region Legal Service Office Europe, Africa, SW Asia

Region Legal Service Office Europe, Africa, SW Asia (RLSO EURAFSWA)  partnered with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the State Department (DOS) to hold a naturalization and immigration day in Naples, Italy on March 17.

The day started with USCIS and DOS providing legal training to RLSO EURAFSWA, including via Defense Collaboration Services with the regional detachments. The RLSO, USCIS, and DOS then hosted a question and answer session on immigration. The day concluded with a naturalization ceremony for four applicants, including active-duty service members and spouses stationed in Rota, Sigonella, Gaeta, and Paris. They originally are from four different countries: Germany, Philippines, Romania, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The applicants pledged to be subject to the rule of law, to adhere to the authority of the U.S. government, to respect each other, and to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Capt. Keith Gibel, commanding officer of RLSO EURAFSWA, was the keynote speaker. Currently, there are more than 4,000 active-duty Sailors who are not U.S. citizens. RLSO EURAFSWA works closely with USCIS and the DOS across the region to help these Sailors, and also assist service members requesting permission to marry foreign nationals. Helping Sailors become naturalized allows them to participate in the processes of state deliberation and decision-making; provides a guarantee of protection of individual freedoms established in the Bill of Rights; and provides increased opportunities, including officer commissioning programs, issuance of a security clearance, and immigration for non-U.S. citizen family members.

Naturalization also has a positive effect on operational readiness, diversity within the ranks, morale, and retention. A number of non-U.S. born military members have played an important role in history: John Barry, John Paul Jones, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Marquis de Lafayette, and Baron von Steuben are just some of the examples of non-U.S. born military members who fought for U.S. independence and fought to preserve the American way of life.
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