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US Military Eyes Expanding Non-Citizen Recruiting December 27, 2006

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News.
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NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–The U.S. armed forces are considering expanding the number of non-citizens in the ranks, including proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to U.S. citizenship if they volunteer, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Citing U.S. Defense Department officials, the newspaper said the idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking U.S. citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the military, while fully absorbing some of the roughly 1 million immigrants that enter the U.S. legally each year.

The proposal to induct more non-citizens, which is still largely on the drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles, the Globe reported. So far, the Pentagon has been quiet about specifics – including who would be eligible to join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum standards might involve, the Globe reported.

It said in the meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer for the military. And since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of immigrants in uniform who have become U.S. citizens has increased to almost 4,600 last year from 750 in 2001, according to military statistics, the Globe said.

Currently, U.S. military policy stipulates that only immigrants legally residing in the U.S. are eligible to enlist. About 30,000 noncitizens serve in the U.S. armed forces, making up about 2% of the active-duty force, according to statistics from the military and the Council on Foreign Relations, the Globe said, and about 100 noncitizens have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A recent change in U.S. law, however, gave the Pentagon authority to bring immigrants to the U.S. if it determines it is vital to national security. So far, the Pentagon has not taken advantage of it, but the calls are growing to take use the new authority, the Globe said.

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