The bill now requires President Bush’s signature in order to pass into U.S. law.
The House approved its version of the Posthumous Citizenship Restoration Act in late September as part of an omnibus Justice Department bill. The bill was then passed by the Senate before a joint Senate/House reconciliation version was approved on Oct. 23.
President Bush has until Saturday, Nov. 2, to sign the bill to avoid an automatic veto. He is expected to sign.
The Senate version of the bill was co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a Republican.
“Many immigrants have proven their patriotism by fighting in this country’s wars,” Schumer said in a statement following successful Senate passage. “Unfortunately, many were killed in action before they became citizens. I think anyone who fights for America should be able to officially be called an American. This bill ensures that the families of those who were killed in action will have another chance to make sure that comes to pass.”
Schumer offered special praise for John Leahy, the Kerry native and decorated veteran of the Korean War who spearheaded the effort over the last 25 years to provide posthumous citizenship for the dead Irish of the Korea conflict.
“John came to America in 1949 and by 1951 was fighting for his soon to be adopted country,” Schumer said. “John survived and became a citizen of America and New York. He has doggedly led the fight to keep alive the memory of his fallen comrades and compatriots through half a century of public forgetfulness,” Schumer said.
Leahy, who now lives in St. Augustine, Fla., said that following the expected signature from President Bush, it would be vital to communicate with the families of close to 30 deceased Irish veterans and help them deal with the necessary paperwork.
For Leahy, the success in Congress was a fitting tribute to the fallen Irish of Korea.
“I think what a lot of people forget, or don’t realize, is that these young men were the first to stand in the line and fight Communism. The families can always take credit from the fact that their sons gave their lives in a most noble cause, that of freedom,” Leahy said.