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December 31, 2006

Immigrants Share the Fight in US Military

Just in from AILA, by Margaret Stock, For NewsUSA, Guest Commentary;

"(NU) - America's all-volunteer military is distinguished by a patriotism that knows no borders and is shared by immigrants whose service is essential to the mission.

In fact, immigrants make up 3 percent to 4 percent of today's armed forces. They are loyal to America and heed the call to fight for the principles of freedom and democracy just as native-born soldiers do. For noncitizens who can meet requirements to enlist and serve honorably, serving in the U.S. military offers a unique path to citizenship.

Foreign-born soldiers play a special role in the military. The United States is a global power, and to project that power effectively, the military needs soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with diverse backgrounds - including the ability to speak many different languages and understand other cultures and societies.

In the fight against terrorism, immigrants enhance the U.S. military by understanding the languages and societies in which our troops are fighting. That's because most native-born Americans lack the linguistic and cultural expertise needed for mission success in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Immigrants also help preserve the all-volunteer force. In wartime, it is especially difficult for the U.S. Armed Forces to find enough qualified people - particularly when the military must compete for recruits with other government agencies and the private sector. If the armed forces were to refuse immigrant enlistments, they would not meet their need for highly qualified enlistees. Even a draft would not provide a ready source of recruits who speak Arabic, Dari, Pashto and other strategic languages.

Immigrant soldiers have been critical to American success in every war. They have been eligible to enlist since the Revolutionary War and have served with great distinction.

Alfred Rascon was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who served in the military and won the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. He later became a U.S. citizen. General John Shalikashvili was promoted to the highest ranks of the U.S. military. The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came to the United States from Poland shortly after World War II.

Serving in the military is a time-honored path to citizenship: Immigrants prove their allegiance to their new homeland and integrate more quickly into American society. Their service carries on a proud and unquestioned tradition in our nation of immigrants".

Margaret Stock is an attorney and member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association; Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police Corps, U.S. Army Reserve; and Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

Posted by VisaLawyer at December 31, 2006 09:34 AM


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