Dying To Be An American
by Maggie Van Ostrand
There's an easier way to become an American citizen than marching in emotional parades for immigration rights or studying U.S. history and being wait-listed for years, or even marrying into it.
You can die into citizenship.
According to the feds, you can become a posthumous American citizen, and they've got the forms to prove it. See how easy our government makes it? It's reassuring to know that, if you give your life for America, and your widow/er files the proper forms, you, too, can enjoy the benefits of citizenship even though you're no longer living.
How do we know this is t? Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, form OMB No. 1115-0173 N-644, "Application for Posthumous Citizenship" says so. I'm not making this up.
Aside from the obvious qualification of having to be deceased, a former illegal, or, as is politically correct, a former "undocumented alien," or, using the current and supreme politically correct and federally approved nomenclature, "non-citizen national," can enjoy U.S. citizenship. In other words, if you could still breathe, the air in your lungs would be free air from a free country.
However, there are specifics to that non-living condition. You have to have died "as a result of injury or disease incurred by active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces during specified periods of military hostilities."
And the military hostilities you have to have died as a result of are clearly spelled out by the feds, whose requirements for posthumous citizenship are that you must have:
1. Served honorably in an active-duty status in the military, air or naval forces of the United States during:
(a) 04/06/1917 - 11/11/1918 (World War I)
(b) 09/01/1939 - 12/31/1946 (World War II)
(c) 06/25/1950 - 07/01/1955 (Korean Hostilities)
(d) 02/28/1961 - 10/15/1978 (Vietnam Hostilities)
(e) 08/02/1990 - 04/11/1991 (Persian Gulf Conflict)
(f) 09/11/2001 until terminated by Executive Order of the President
(g) any other period of military hostilities designated by Executive Order of the President for the purpose of naturalization benefits
(h) a period of at least five years following enlistment or reenlistment in the U.S. Army under the Lodge Act of June 30, 1950; and who:
2. died because of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by that service; and
3. met one of the following enlistment requirements:
(a) was enlisted, reenlisted, or inducted in the United States, Panama Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swain's Island; or
(b) was admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident at any time; or
(c) if a person described in l. (f) above, entered the United States, Panama Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swain's Island pursuant to military orders at some time during such service.
You may be wondering by now what and where is the entity referred to by the Fed as Swain's Island, obviously a very important, huge place or it wouldn't have come to the attention of Homeland Security, the agency that couldn't even find New Orleans.
Trouble is, there are more than one Swain's Island. We don't know if the Fed means the one-square-mile island annexed by the U.S. in 1925 that lies off Samoa, or the Swain's Island off Nantucket, or the island of Swona (Old Norse for “Swain's Island”) the northern of the two islands situated in the Pentland Firth between the Orkney Islands and Caithness on the Scottish mainland.
They probably don't mean the one off Samoa, since that one has no apostrophe, and there is an apostrophe in the Swain's Island mentioned in the Fed's regulations on posthumous citizenship. Besides, that particular Swains Island, the one without an apostrophe, has been privately owned by the same family for the last hundred years.
Even if the government is not too good with grammar, they can make dead people citizens. You just can't top that.