Americanism, one of the four pillars of The American Legion, is comprised of several different, very important facets. One of those is citizenship.
For decades, The American Legion has advocated for immigrants coming to the U.S. to choose the legal path to U.S. citizenship. To help with that journey, Legion posts across the country have conducted citizenship classes for immigrants working legally to become U.S. citizens.
The American Legion Department of Florida recently stepped in during a specific immigration case involving U.S. Army veteran Stephen Holota.
Holota is the son of Ukranian parents who immigrated from Germany to the United States when their son was just two years old. Holota went on to serve in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. But he never became a U.S. citizen – and wasn’t legally considered a citizen of either Germany or the Ukraine – and began running into problems when he tried to renew his driver’s license and then obtain U.S. citizenship.
When the Legion’s Department of Florida found out about Holota’s situation, they began telling his story to the media and state leaders, which resulted in an expediated citizenship process for the veteran.
This fall, Holota was sworn in as a citizen of the United States. Since that time, Department of Florida Commander Jay Conti, Sr. has appointed a Veterans Immigration chairman to work with Homeland Security and set up initial meetings at local American Legion posts in major cities. Immigration officials will be coming to these posts to start up the initial interview and paperwork process for veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces but never gained citizenship.