Lawmakers are causing a stir after accusations that the only reason some immigrants enter the military is to get citizenship. Rep. Steve King was quoted saying that immigrants who enlist in the military only for citizenship reasons are “defrauding the Department of Defense.”
Controversies with the Enlist Act
According to the Enlist Act, any undocumented immigrants who have honorably served in the military would be granted citizenship. However, while this provision makes sense for those who serve the country and wish to remain here legally, this may also lead to immigrants who see this as a faster option for getting legal status rather than trying to get a green card through the current system.
King claims that the bill is a way to grant “amnesty” to certain individuals. The military wants to ensure they take individuals who truly care about the work and want to make a difference rather than for the benefits they are offered. King believes having undocumented immigrants as part of the military should not be taken lightly. “… We don’t ride around throwing citizenship like you do M&M’s or Tootsie Rolls or whatever it is we’re tossing out in our parades.”
Military continuing to grant citizenship after requirements are fulfilled
Not everyone is opposed to having immigrants serve in the military. This provides a way for immigrants to prove their loyalty to the country they wish to embrace as their new home and earn the citizenship by fighting for it. A study published actually supports the idea of having immigrants stay in the military because non-citizens tend to be more likely to complete their enlistment obligations compared to U.S. born individuals.
Despite the negative accusations by lawmakers, the military is not considering getting rid of their citizenship policy for immigrants nor do they consider granting amnesty to individuals in the country without documents. Because of the backlog in the immigration system, immigrants are looking for unconventional means of obtaining citizenship that will take under 20 years, which is the estimated waiting time for some immigrants. Immigrants looking to explore options to stay in the U.S. are advised to contact a licensed immigration attorney.
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