The Corner

For Military Citizenship Path

A letter from another reader:

Love your comments on The Corner, always, but I think your sense of division on this one is misplaced.  Believe it or not, a Dem strategist is occasionally capable, like the proverbial broken clock, of saying something that makes sense.

A little about me:  I was an Army Field Artillery officer for four years, on active duty.  I’m also a big fan of building fences on the border.

In my time, I encountered more than a few soldiers who were not U.S. citizens­including a really good kid who was Filipino, one of the groups readily mentioned by Messrs. Boot and O’Hanlon.  My Filipino soldier was eager to become a citizen, and trying to move through the process.  I often reflect on my time, and feel I failed him, not doing enough to help him with this process because of the high tempo of our unit, which seemed to constantly be in the field.  As I said, he was a really good kid, with regular Richie Cunningham values (in a Cavalry unit filled with guys who, like me, would put a Kennedy to shame chasing skirts and drinking booze on Friday nights).  And he was a hard, by-the-book worker who would take the time to show fellow soldiers what they were doing wrong when it came to things like cleaning their chemical protective masks.

The problem of being a non-citizen hurt this soldier, though.  He could not obtain a security clearance, necessary for the bulk of MOSs (Military Occupational Specialties), and in particular the more desirable ones.  Consequently, he was a Chemical Corps soldier­one of the least desirable jobs in the Army.  But every day, he set out to do his job right­and, I think, probably would have saved quite a few lives if his unit were ever on a battlefield where chemical weapons were being deployed by the enemy.

I offer this experience as evidence that the proposal of military service in exchange for citizenship would bring in a lot of good folks, and frankly, our kind of people.  These people WANT to be Americans, and they are willing to do a thankless, dangerous, dirty job where the pay is anything but great.  And they’d be coming up in a culture that has a decidedly conservative outlook on the world (no matter what left-wing groups claiming to speak for soldiers and soldiers’ families might say).  This seems to me a solution to immigration that would, if anything, benefit the conservative movement and America as a whole.

If immigration is going to happen­and it IS going to happen­then let’s do everything we can to make sure we get immigrants who will make America a better place by being here.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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