A recording of today’s press call is available here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is an urgent need for Congress to modernize our immigration process and enact policies that will help ensure national security and military readiness, speakers said on a press call today.
Highlighting a new paper, “For Love of Country: New Americans Serving in Our Armed Forces,” a group including veterans, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who joined the military’s Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, and a policy expert expressed the importance of Dreamers and other immigrants to the military’s ability to sustain an all-volunteer force and utilize critical language skills and cultural competencies.
The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:
Rear Adm. Jim Partington, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Executive Director at the Nebraska Restaurant Association:
“About 11 percent of U.S. veterans came from an immigrant background. Our armed forces benefit from the patriotism, hard work and skills that immigrants bring — skills such as foreign-language proficiency and cultural competencies that support our strategic interests when troops are deployed abroad. Service members depend on their brothers and sisters on the front line, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or immigration status.”
Lt. Col. Margaret Stock, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.), Attorney at Cascadia Cross-Border Law Group, LLC:
“The government has created an extremely complex and often arbitrary system of immigration laws and regulations without full attention to the detrimental impact that this system has on the readiness of the U.S. armed forces. At the very least, Congress should make laws that allow young people who meet military enlistment standards to enlist in the military, and that includes measures like the DREAM Act. If Congress were to pass legislation to legalize the status of these young people, the military would benefit from the addition of thousands of high-quality recruits.”
Erick Ruiz, DACA Recipient, MAVNI Program Participant:
“As long as I had the opportunity to put on the uniform and serve my country, that’s all I cared about. To me it was a no-brainer. This country is my home. It’s all I’ve known for the past 20 years. It’s where my wife and daughter are. This is very important to me, and I hope this legislation moves forward and people see the benefits immigrants bring to the military.”
Jacinta Ma, Director of Policy and Advocacy, National Immigration Forum:
“Our nation can ensure the broadest pool of potential service members by including the millions of young undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children. By allowing more immigrants, who possess critical skills and have far lower attrition rates, to serve in our armed forces, we save critical time and resources.”