April 22, 2014
Here’s a disturbing new idea from some members of Congress: Trade instant citizenship to illegal immigrants if they’ll agree to serve in the U.S. military.
Serving in the military is a high calling and a privilege—certainly not something to be treated as a bargaining chip in immigration politics. Yet these congressmen are trying to sneak this provision into the larger National Defense Authorization Act, which lays out the budget for the Department of Defense.
What’s more, the immigrants in question would be those who are brought to the U.S. as children—often called DREAMers (after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act).
“Allowing unlawful immigrants to join the military in exchange for citizenship is a radical and perverse incentive that would encourage more illegal immigration of children,” write Heritage experts David Inserra and Cully Stimson.
One of the problems with any amnesty-based immigration policy is that it encourages more illegal immigration. Offering a shortcut to citizenship in return for military service is no different.
And not only would this plan worsen immigration problems; it would also create new security concerns. Inserra and Stimson warn:
They would be required to take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” even though they are still technically citizens of other countries. And although there have been non-citizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces in the past, the nation is engaged in a unique type of war today against a non-state actor that cannot be easily identified. Additionally, since very little may be known about these individuals, the risk of recruiting dangerous individuals increases. This risk is amplified by the fact that the promise of backdoor instant citizenship may draw individuals who do not actually believe in the mission of the U.S. military.
The Obama administration already has a problem with enforcing existing immigration laws, and the president has promised a “year of action”—executive action, that is, without Congress. Immigration is one area where more “action” is expected.
With more administration “fixes” in the pipeline, Congress shouldn’t be doing damage of its own to America’s immigration policies. It should be focused on reforms Americans agree on—like securing the borders, making the system work better for legal immigrants, and providing effective temporary worker programs.
Most importantly, however, Congress should be using every tool at its disposal to pressure the Obama administration to enforce the law faithfully.