Memorial Day gives us an opportunity to honor and remember the fallen soldiers. Many men and women have died in service to the country. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) pays tribute to members of the U.S. armed forces and the veterans by providing them with a fast track path to U.S. citizenship. The immigration agency also conducts special naturalization ceremonies and naturalizes service members, as a part of Memorial Day observances.
More than 8,000 immigrants enlist in the U.S. military every year. Since 2001, around 65,000 immigrant service members have obtained U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process. However, some young immigrants who seek to serve the country are prevented from doing so.
Reports also show that the country has deported more than 30,000 service members since 1996. This is due to the broken immigration system of the U.S. that allows legal permanent residents (green card holders) to enlist but deports them if they violate the immigration laws. Immigrants benefit the country in several ways and they also show their commitment to the country in several ways. They give up their home countries and serve the U.S. through military service. This Memorial Day is the right time to recognize the contributions made by such immigrants to the country.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) recently introduced the ENLIST Act in the House that would permit some young undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to enlist in the U.S. military and apply for citizenship, later on. Likewise, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) also came up with an amendment that would allow undocumented immigrants to attend the military service academies. But the House Rules Committee voted against both these amendments during the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) debate.
However, the Pentagon is currently considering allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients with employment authorization documents to join the military. The Pentagon consideration would enable more immigrants to serve in the U.S. military.