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Politifact.com — sorting out the truth in politics

Thousands of "green card" soldiers

The statement

U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan include a "few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country."

John McCain, May 26 in a Web ad

The ruling

We checked with the Defense Department to see how many noncitizens are serving in the U.S. military, and if Sen. John McCain was accurate that there are thousands serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The short answer is that McCain is right. As of Feb. 29, there were 20,328 noncitizens on active duty in the military (about 1.5 percent of the entire active military), according to a report provided by the Pentagon. Of those, 4,112 were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in support of those operations elsewhere. There were another 2,236 whose citizenship was "unknown." These are legal residents with green cards who have not yet become naturalized citizens. There are citizenship incentives for those who enlist. All immigrants who serve honorably in the military during wartime are eligible to file for immediate citizenship under special wartime provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An analysis of the Pentagon report by PolitiFact determined that about a quarter of the "green card" soldiers are originally from Spanish-speaking countries. In addition, there are 10,533 naturalized citizens in the military who were born in Spanish-speaking countries. The thousands of noncitizens serving is one of the military's little-known facts. But not to McCain.

Robert Farley, Times staff writer

Her senior thesis doesn't say that

The statement

Obama's wife wrote a paper in college that said America was a nation founded on "crime and hatred" and that whites in America are "ineradicably racist." From a chain e-mail

The ruling

It's true that Michelle Obama, then Michelle Robinson, attended Princeton and wrote a thesis titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." In Obama's thesis, she sought to quantify how the attitudes of black Princeton alumni changed after graduation in regard to race relations and social change. To document the change in attitudes, Obama devised an 18-question survey and mailed it to black alumni. Her thesis is a discussion of her methodology and an analysis of the results. It contains a limited amount of personal opinion in the introduction. The thesis did not say that the United States was founded on "crime and hatred" and that whites in America are "ineradicably racist." This appears to be a complete fabrication. The thesis is available on the Internet; the politics news site Politico reported on it in February and posted a copy it had obtained from Princeton. We downloaded a copy, which appears to be complete with no numbered pages missing. We read it, but we did not find the phrases the e-mail describes. We took the additional step of scanning the document through optical character recognition software so we could search its text electronically. An automated search did not find the words "crime," "hatred," "hate," "ineradicably" or "racist."

Angie Drobnic Holan, Times staff writer

Politifact.com — sorting out the truth in politics 06/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:49pm]
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