Image copyright Wikimedia Commons
By Steve Levin
Copyright The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Indian national Cpl. Jasdeep Singh graduated from Ridgeview High School in 2010, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and by 2012 found himself in Afghanistan serving with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, Ist Marine Logistics Group.
Federal law allows non-U.S. citizens to serve in the military but prohibits them from becoming commissioned or warrant officers.
That's not what bothered Singh, though, a native of Amritsar, in Punjab state, where generations of his family had worked as farmers. He was 4 1/2 when his family emigrated in 1996 to California where he entered a Merced County kindergarten without English skills and wearing a turban like nearly all Sikhs.
What bothered him was that now he was 20 years old in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province at Camp Dwyer, then one of the largest Marine bases in the country, a U.S. Marine defending American interests -- but he wasn't an American citizen.
"It's more mental than anything else," Singh said recently from his stateside posting in Camp Pendleton, recalling his feelings.
"You're here. You know you belong. It's just like there's a feeling that you don't. You feel like you don't belong."
So when a captain asked him if he was interested in gaining citizenship under special provisions provided for in the Immigration and Nationality Act, he of course said yes.