The Sacramento Bee
April 6, 2003

Editorial: Americans in death

   Immigrant Marines pay ultimate price

   Bee Editorial Staff -

   Among the more than 50 deaths and scores of injuries suffered thus far by American forces in Iraq, there are many tales of heroics and devotion to
   country. But four fallen Marines deserve special mention because they died in service to a country they could not yet call their own. They were Pfc.
   Francisco Martinez Flores, Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, all born in Mexico, and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, born in

   The three Mexican citizens were green card holders, and they were in large company in the U.S. military. Some 36,000 like them now serve in the
   American armed forces. Most have green cards; others hold some other form of legal residence. Virtually all hope one day to be American citizens, so
   much that they are willing to die for it.

   Gutierrez, 27, was an orphan and an illegal immigrant who came to California from Guatemala, on foot and by hopping trains, in 1997. Given his legal
   status, it isn't clear how he was able to join the Marines last year. The military says it requires permanent, legal residency of its members. But
   Gutierrez was unquestionably a Marine: He died of combat wounds on March 21. Military officials say he will be made an American citizen

   Immigrants have long seen the U.S. military as a gateway to citizenship, education and economic opportunity, and the deaths of these four Marines
   echo those of other non-citizens who died for this country before them. But their lives remind us how much we sometimes take for granted the rights
   and privileges of a citizenship they coveted. In honoring their sacrifice, let's try not to forget how important those rights and privileges are.