Boniface Anoje was a proud dad when his son, Navy serviceman Nick Anoje, received his American citizenship on July 1. In the special citizenship ceremony, planned to coincide with Independence Day celebrations, the former Nigerian became a new citizen with 48 other foreign-born members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Surrounded on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Midway by family, friends, and fellow servicepersons, the group received congratulatory words from 49th District congressman Darrel Issa. Issa pointed out that they were among the 1.2 million residents who will receive legal American citizenship this year; he said there is probably a hundred times more who would like to come here.
Issa thanked the assembled men and women in uniform for accepting an obligation “to spread liberty and justice to those who can’t make it to our shores.”
Of three recent Supreme Court decisions (same-sex marriage, Obamacare, and congressional redistricting), Issa, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “We are a country of laws. The courts have spoken. You and I have an obligation to accept and uphold those laws. This is what America stands for.”
He charged the new citizens to continue to serve their new country and stay aware of “those countries that have ambition to take what is not theirs; Iran, North Korea, and Russia.”
As Nick Anoje’s name was called as he walked toward the podium, 15 of his fellow shipmates from the U.S.S. Boxer stood and cheered. Anoje called the men and women his “family.”
“I’ve been trying [for citizenship] for 13 years,” said Anoje. He came to America with his dad and family at age nine. Dad Boniface said, “This feels so great.” Boniface’s brother Victor was the first to come to the U.S. in 1972, and he served in the Navy.
When asked how non-citizens can join the U.S. military, Vickie Alba, head of immigration and naturalization of the Navy’s Southwest Command, said only non-citizens who reside in the U.S. might apply for the armed services; in other words, the Marines do not have recruitment offices in foreign countries.
There used to be treaties, such as with post-WWII Philippines, which automatically allowed residents of other countries into the U.S. military. “But in times of war, like we are now, those rules can be changed,” Alba added.