Marion County

Veteran dealt another blow in quest for U.S. citizenship

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Paul Canton served this country, then made a life here.

“I met my wife back in 2003, We got married way back then so got the house, got the dog,” he said.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran, who grew up in Australia, told Eyewitness News in February he thought with four years active duty, he’d earned his citizenship – like he said his recruiter promised.

He even voted in eight different elections. It was only when he went to renew his license last year that he found out he wasn’t actually a citizen.

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After we aired his story, Sen. Marco Rubio got involved.

“We did not go to Rubio and ask for help, he offered to help,” said Elizabeth Ricci, Canton’s attorney.

She said she feels the gesture was all words, and no action.

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Ricci said she was hoping Rubio would push for a special bill to get immediate citizenship for the veteran.

Canton, who said he believes there’s a problem in the system, was hoping for legislation to make citizenship automatic for anyone who serves honorably.

“I would have thought he would have been willing to step in and not just help me, but end this problem for Vets once and for all,” Canton said.

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Canton said he was recently told by Rubio’s office that the senator wouldn’t push this kind of legislation because it would be an extraordinary measure and something he hasn’t done before.

Canton’s attorney has filed a new case with Citizenship and Immigration Services, pointing out he served as a ready reserve during a period of hostility, and that she believes he should be granted citizenship.

A spokesman for Rubio provided Channel 9 with the following statement:

“The Office of Senator Rubio has been working on behalf of Mr. Canton for more than a year. We continue to pursue viable options on Mr. Canton’s behalf, including engaging with the White House.”

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.