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US military should recruit more non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, US senator says with new bill

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
July 21, 2023

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is spearheading an initiative to address recruitment shortfalls within the U.S. military by expanding the eligibility for non-citizens to serve.

According to Stars and Stripes, the proposed legislation, labeled the Enlist Act, is intended to bolster the military’s ability to meet it’s manpower requirements by increasing the number of eligible recruits in the United States.

“Allowing highly qualified, long-time residents of our great nation the opportunity to serve the country they’ve come to love is a commonsense way to give the services better access to talented potential recruits and improve our military’s readiness in the process,” Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and former Army Black Hawk pilot, stated.

If passed, the legislation would open the military’s doors to individuals who have resided in the U.S. for a minimum of five years. This includes those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, persons with temporary protected status and those who hold approved petitions for immigrant visas.

Duckworth claims that the bill would address the “unprecedented challenges” the military services are facing in recruitment, citing a “historically small pool of eligible recruits.”

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The gap between recruitment goals and enlistment numbers has been steadily widening in recent years. Current statistics suggest that a mere 24%-27% of young people, ages 18-24, qualify for service, with even fewer expressing the desire to serve.

According to Duckworth, the Enlist Act would not only increase the pool of potential recruits, but also provide an avenue for enlisted non-citizens to attain naturalized citizenship. This pathway complements an existing process that allows non-citizen service members to naturalize.

Despite previous proposals to expand enlistment eligibility for non-citizens failing to gain support in Congress, Duckworth remains optimistic about her latest endeavor, which has been filed as an amendment to the Senate’s annual defense policy bill.

The Enlist Act represents a potentially transformative policy, reigniting efforts to enhance the military’s recruitment capabilities and, by extension, national security.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.