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February 23, 2004

QUINN JOINS U.S. SOLDIER GRANTED CITZENSHIP BEFORE RETURN TO IRAQ Marine Corporal Matthew Prentice receives U.S. citizenship with aid of Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn

CHICAGO—Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn joined British-born Marine Corporal Matthew Prentice for the granting of U.S. citizenship before his unit - the 1st Marine Division - departs for active duty service in Iraq.
            Two weeks ago, Marine Corporal Prentice logged on to Quinn’s website, http://www.operationhomefront.org, to learn more about the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund and the various ways it can help National Guard members, reservists and their families.  Prentice contacted Quinn’s office by sending an e-mail describing his citizenship dilemma.
            “As soon as I sent my e-mail to the Lt. Gov.’s office, they immediately sent me a reply and have been working closely with me through the whole citizenship process,” said Prentice.  “Everyone I know says that Illinois has it good when it comes to helping their troops and it really is true.”
            Prentice emigrated to the United States from England with his mother, father, two brothers and his sister in 1981.  For the past 13 years, Marine Corporal Prentice and his family have lived in Illinois.  As a member if the United States Marine Corps, Prentice has served in Operation Dynamic Response in Kosovo, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He will soon be returning to Iraq as part of the
1st Marine Division.
            “This is electronic democracy at its best,” said Quinn. “Corporal Prentice e-mailed our office through the military family website and here we are now, welcoming him as an American citizen.”
            Prentice was sworn in by Federal Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, an Armenian immigrant who came to the United States when he was 19. 
            Also joining Quinn for the ceremony were Prentice’s mother and father, Lindsey and John Prentice, his two brothers, Laurence and Neil Prentice and his sister, Jeni Prentice.
            According to the U.S. Department of Defense, about 38,000 troops – or 3 percent – of U.S. troops are
not citizens.
            Quinn has led the successful drive to set up the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund to assist the families of Illinois National Guard member and reservists who face economic hardship when the breadwinner is on active duty. 
            Quinn’s office maintains a website, www.operationhomefront.org, describing how citizens
back home can help the troops and their families.  Having registered more than 4.6 million hits, the
website is one of the most frequented sites in Illinois government.

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