2014 Symposium: Should illegal immigrants be allowed to serve in our military in lieu of deportation?

Myrtle Beach: On the surface I would say yes to this. It would allow them to earn their citizenship, and would strengthen our military. But would it really? If you delve deeper into this you will see the flaw.

The truth is that the military is made for war. What can happen in times of war? Our men and women risk being taken captive. This has been a military tactic and always will be. It is how we and our adversaries gather information. Herein lies the problem. I don’t want people in our military who don’t have full allegiance to the United States. Yeah they can take an oath, but those are just words.

Let’s play this one out. Illegal immigrant joins our military. Goes through boot camp, and remains a service member for 10 years. He moves up in rank. We go to war and he gets taken captive. Yes, I would love to think he is completely loyal to the country who took him in. But is he really? I would rather not risk it.

Maybe the solution would be to prevent him gaining rank. But with the nature of the military they will inevitably know some secrets.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the financial burdens in this scenario. Let’s start with paying them; add retirement; families. The list goes on and on.

Let’s get our American citizens in the military first. Personally I would rather pay an American and risk an American being captured than someone who may not be fully loyal to our country.

Asheville: One of the few sources of agreement between parties in Washington, D.C. is that the status quo policies on immigration are seriously broken. For conservatives, they allow too many immigrants in. Some of them are dangerous, while others consume jobs and social welfare programs meant for honest American citizens. Tougher regulations, stricter border control, and a more heavily militarized border are the answers.

For liberals, the labor conditions under which undocumented workers live are inhumane and unfair. American farmers profit from the sub-minimum wage they are allowed to pay, and from the surplus of skilled labor that illegal immigration brings. Immigrants suffer at the hands of malicious border patrol agents. A faster pathway to legal citizenship is the answer to their problems.

One compromise position has been the so-called DREAM Act. Originally proposed in 2006, the act would allow, among other things, a faster pathway to legal citizenship for immigrants willing to serve in the armed forces. This option would be a way to sort the hard-working, industrious immigrants from those who came seeking handouts.

The problem with the policy is that the benefits of military service are underwhelming. The modern American military is not as labor intensive as the military of the world wars. Advanced weapons technology needs more skill and more training, not more soldiers. Were the act expanded instead to other service programs, like Volunteer Corp or Americorp, where labor is in much greater demand, American society might benefit much more from immigrant service. Additionally, such an expansion would equip immigrants with in-demand job skills, putting them and their children in a better position after they exit the program. While military service is not exactly the answer, some form of national service ought to provide a way to achieve citizenship for immigrant dreamers.

Prescott Valley: Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to serve in our military in lieu of deportation for a number of reasons.

One of the main reasons illegal immigrants should not be allowed to serve in the military is the fact that they would be given precedence or priority over an American citizen who is qualified to serve in any branch of the military and desires to serve and defend the country. With millions out of work, there are many young men and women who truly want to be part of the military as an ongoing career in service to the United States.

With the depletion of the United States military occurring now in record numbers, there is a question as to why an administration would suddenly warrant replacing seasoned and highly trained officers and enlisted military members with a host of illegals. Men and women on the battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq and other foreign nations America defends have been handed pink slips as they serve. “Spreading the jobs around” should never include delivering technical soldiering to illegals about to be deported from the United States. American citizens must not be passed over for service in the military because of an illegal alien wanting to skip the necessary steps to be part of the military for the wrong reasons. The threat of deportation must never be a tradeoff for serving in the United States military.

The act of entering a country illegally must not be rewarded with service in its military and the benefits the military provides. That is a dishonor to the military and the country it represents. The entire rule of law is disgraced and violated.
Deportation for whatever reason usually means that an illegal has overstayed a visa, has an invalid visa, or expired passport, has been admitted into the country illegally in the first place, has violated terms of a non-immigrant status, has been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude, committed aggravated felonies, worked without proper authorization, committed document fraud, claimed false citizenship, failed to report an address change, or has become a public charge (dependent on the government for assistance). Reviewing these reasons for deportation provides sufficient justification in understanding why an illegal alien should not be allowed to serve in the military. If criminal acts or violation of laws are committed, deportation should be the only option, not service in the military.

In order for an illegal alien to be allowed to serve in the military, he or she would have to return to their home country, come into the United States legally, apply for citizenship in the procedural manner and follow through with the naturalization process. There should be no exceptions other than for those who are currently pursuing legal status under the right conditions and procedures. If military service is a pursuit or “dream” of an illegal alien, he or she must be required to follow the mandatory steps and screening processes for doing so.

Allegiances are extremely important with any kind of military commitment or service and if illegal aliens are divided between allegiances, which usually means faithfulness to their home country and its political, social and cultural philosophy as opposed to that of the host country, those loyalties and philosophies are going to be misdirected, and there is no place in the military for those kinds of attitudes.

The path to the military as to citizenship requires a long and determined pursuit, and illegal aliens should not receive special consideration or exemptions in that pursuit, particularly when laws have been broken. The only way to serving in the United States military is through the legal channels that everyday citizens have had to adhere to in the past and present.

Cartwright: I’m not opposed to something like that but our military is becoming less human capital intensive and more technology intensive. I’m not sure there’s a need for these people to be in the military. If you want to load up the military and put them on the border, maybe that’s an option but I don’t think they should get military benefits or pay; they work in exchange for room and board. But listen, I don’t think military service is the answer. I think the real issue is getting some kind of service out of these illegal immigrants, many of whom want to become citizens at some point. The service we get out of them doesn’t necessarily have to be military service. I say we give them a choice between deportation and work. If they choose to work on selected projects for five years and at the same time become proficient in English, they can take the citizenship test at the completion of their five years of service.

There are plenty of infrastructure projects that could be undertaken and completed much more quickly if we employed the labor of illegal immigrants. How many roads and bridges could be built, expanded or repaired with crews working around the clock? How many high speed rail lines could be constructed? A lot of these infrastructure projects were represented as being shovel ready. Why take five years for a highway project when it can be done in a fraction of the time with the labor of illegal immigrants?

But I think we need to be careful about this. We have a set of rules for immigrating legally to the United States. I think these rules need to be followed. Realistically, we’re not going to round up all the illegals here and deport them. That isn’t going to happen, so we need to figure out how to deal with it.

First, we need to round up all the illegals who have committed crimes (other than coming here illegally) and send them back to their home countries. Let their prisons deal with them. If they come back after this, we just shoot them. If these are violent criminals, let’s get the rope and find a sturdy tree and get rid of them once and for all. Why should the taxpayers fund these criminals and why should they be given any legal rights here? Fast track them to the gallows.

Second, we need to identify and locate those who are here illegally and get both service and taxes out of them. If they’ve been working under the table or just under the radar, they’ve been avoiding income taxes. Let’s go back and calculate how much they owe and get that from them. If they can’t pay, off they go back to their home country. So, they have to pay up and give us service before they have an opportunity for citizenship.

Third, we need to make sure we have a system in place to keep track of people entering the country on work visas, student visas, etc. We have plenty of technology to track these people in one way or another. When their time is up, they have to go or face the consequences.

Fourth, we need to make it very difficult on illegals here. They shouldn’t be able to open a bank account or get a driver’s license or get a job or put their kids in school or get any type of government services or assistance. Maybe they’ll leave voluntarily.

Fifth, we need to make sure we have control of our borders.

Sixth, we need to make it very difficult under all circumstances to become a citizen. These people don’t have a right to citizenship. They don’t have a right to come here and use our services and become a citizen. This may encourage people to come here illegally, but if we have the other systems in place to make it difficult for them to stay here illegally or even get here illegally, I think we can mitigate this.

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