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Military photographer wins three-year battle to become U.S. citizen

Elisha Dawkins: It was a battle for my life

Erick Johnson | 7/3/2014, 9 a.m.
He fought for freedom in Iraq but Elisha Dawkins’ real battle for liberty was on American soil where the 26-year-old ...
Elisha Dawkins celebrated his freedom after become a U.S Citizen recently in Jackson

“It was mentally exhausting,” he said. “But because of my training, I had the strength and courage to overcome the challenges.”

IMMIGRANTS SERVING THEIR COUNTRY

Without their citizenship, immigrants can still serve in the United States military. The practice has deep historical roots. Non-citizens have fought in and with the U.S. Armed forces since the Revolutionary War. According to One America, nationally, each year around 8,000 non-citizens enlist in the military. Individuals are paid for their service and their decision to join the military is entirely voluntary. Each branch of the services has different requirements for enlistment, but applicants generally must have a Green card or an Alien Registration Receipt Card. Applicants must also have prove that they have established residence in the U.S. as their home for a certain period of time.

President Obama is trying to pass legislation that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain their citizenship if they serve in the military. The Obama administration announced its deferred action program in June of 2012 and has now accepted more than 150,000 undocumented young people into the program allowing them to obtain jobs. Eligibility for the policy roughly aligns with the framework for the Dream Act, a decade-old bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children — often called Dreamers — to become citizens if they meet certain criteria.