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Why The Military's Plan To Accept Illegal Immigrants Is A Smart Idea
The headline jumped at me like a Bouncing Betty: “Department of Defense Planning to Let Illegal Immigrants Enlist.” The words evoke images of prison-tattooed gang members wading across the Rio Grande, sprinting from exhausted Border Patrol agents to the nearest recruiting office, exclaiming “Sign me up, pendejo!” and giving an MS-13 salute as they board the bus for Benning. The story was, on its face, too unrealistic to believe. There had to be more to it than what the headline suggested.
I’m extremely interested in the topic of immigrants in the military, for several reasons. My family is originally from Mexico, although my ancestors came to America about a hundred years ago. My great-grandfather was either drafted into or joined the U.S. Army not long after he arrived (I have no idea what his immigration status was). He had completed training and was at the station waiting to board a train to a troop ship heading to the battlefields of the Great War, when a loudspeaker announced the Armistice. All of his sons save one served in the military during World War II or Korea. His oldest son, my great uncle Leo, was killed in the Bataan Death March. His youngest son, my great uncle Richard, was a Marine in Korea. Generations later, his descendants --- me and my niece --- are still serving.
I’ve spent time in Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where I met many people who desperately wanted to become American soldiers. I served as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo from 2000 to 2002; after 9/11 many Albanian Muslims, furious that America had been attacked, asked me how they could join the U.S. military to fight al-Qaeda. At least one of the Albanians I worked with did, and served as a Marine in Afghanistan. Two Afghan translators I served in combat with are now living in the United States, and one contacted an Army recruiter within a week of arriving here.
In Afghanistan I was on a French firebase, and was surprised when French soldiers asked me how to immigrate to America. One even used the phrase “American Dream” when I asked why he wanted to leave France. A French Marine I was on many missions with actually did move to America, is now married to a California girl and eagerly awaiting his citizenship. He hopes to be Special Forces someday.
And then there’s Rafael Peralta. Peralta was an illegal immigrant who eventually got his green card and joined the Marines the next day. He was killed while clearing a house during Fallujah II. Whatever the truth about how he died, he entered the United States illegally, but then became a Marine, and died serving the United States.
I know that immigrants, even illegal ones, can be patriotic Americans willing to give their lives for their adopted country. And I generally believe that anyone willing and qualified to serve should be able to. Especially when we’re at war.
But on the other hand…
American-citizen combat veterans, some of whom are deployed, are being told they can’t re-enlist. Men and women who have already risked their lives for their nation and planned on making the military a career are being forced out. Yet citizens of other nations, who have enter the country illegally, are being allowed in? How can that possibly be fair?
Additionally, we’re quite possibly inviting more people to come here illegally by accepting them into the military. The border crisis in my home state of Texas is strongly suspected to have been sparked by a rumor that immigrants who crossed the border, once here, would be allowed to stay. That’s why so many have crossed and turned themselves in, rather than hiding.
Fortunately, the “illegals in the military” headline didn’t accurately describe the situation. The military hasn’t been opened to all illegal immigrants. It’s opened to just a few, under very specific conditions. Only those brought here by their parents when they were younger than 16 will be eligible to join, and only if they’ve already received a deportation deferral, and then only if they have critical skills (such as fluency in Arabic or Farsi, or specialized medical training). The law is a new provision of an existing program called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, which already targeted non-citizens with critical skills who held visas, but not resident alien status. The program is capped at 1,500 recruits per year, and the number of illegal immigrants who manage to join will likely be only a small percentage of that number. The net result is almost no result at all. And the law seems to make sense.
If someone was brought to the United States as a child, grew up here, possesses a desired skill, is otherwise qualified and wants to serve, what good does it do to deport him rather than let him enlist? When we have so many Americans who would never consider military service, I applaud those from other countries who volunteer to protect our country.
Undoubtedly, some of them are just doing it for citizenship. But we have red-blooded Americans in the military now who joined for purely selfish reasons, totally separate from the notion of serving this nation. We don’t kick them out, nor do we expect anything more from them than the minimums. My gut feeling is that illegal immigrants permitted to join the military as a path to citizenship won’t float at the bottom of the pond, so to speak. They know military service is their golden ticket, so they have an incentive not to screw it up.
As far as the career soldiers being forced out of the military, I don’t see how this affects them. Whether illegal immigrants are being allowed into the military or not, those soldiers are being downsized. This program, in any form, doesn’t change that.
So in the end, this law doesn’t seem to be the opened gate to hell it originally seemed. Then again, the law in its present state may not be the real worry. Perhaps this is simply another stepping stone to widened amnesty, a way to gain future votes from millions of “undocumented Democrats.” Maybe.
But for now, I’ll accept the law as is, understanding that it’s a pragmatic means to handle a complex problem. I’ll be happy to shake hands with the first formerly-illegal-immigrant-now-American soldier I meet. I’ll give him the same benefit of the doubt I’d give to any other soldier, unless he does something to remove that benefit. Once someone has sworn loyalty to this country, and does his job like every other soldier, I don’t really care where he’s from. All I care about is whether or not he has my back.
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.