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A Veteran’s View: Honor Immigrants' Service to Country—Protect Their Families

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I wanted to share this powerful story featured at The Sanctuary today, in honor of Veteran’s Day and all of the men and women who serve our country in uniform.

The story is from U.S. Army veteran, Ethiopian refugee, and American citizen Alemayehu Addis, and it includes a call to action. He asks us to support new legislation that would protect immigrant military families from the kind of hardships so many face when their loved ones return home from duty and try to navigate our broken immigration system.

Here’s a snippet of Alemayehu’s story — check it out:

I came to the United States when I was 11 years old. I remember the day I first set foot on American soil as if it were yesterday: May 23, 1991. The oppressive humidity of a Washington D.C. summer made it even more memorable. Ethiopia is a warm country, but I had never experienced such a combination of swamp-like humidity and searing heat before. We stayed in Washington DC for about a month before we moved to Philadelphia where my family and I live now.


My story is similar to that of thousands of other immigrants in the United States Armed Services. They love this country, the freedom it enjoys, and the unparalleled opportunity it represents. It has been my experience that immigrant service members are the most eager to prove how much they love this country with their service because they are keenly aware of how unique and special our country is. According to a report released this week by the Immigration Policy Center, there are over 114,000 immigrants currently serving, and over 10,000 were naturalized as U.S. citizens last year. Since September 11th, over 53,000 men and women in the armed services have become U.S. citizens.

Yesterday, Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey introduced a bill to provide immigration relief to the thousands of immigrants and their families serving overseas. Simply, the bill aims to keep the families of US service members together while they fight for our freedom. At the very least, service members have earned the right to be united with their closest family members on a permanent basis without fearing that they will face unfair and unexpected deportation.