For Love of Country: New Americans Serving in Our Armed Forces

Report Author: 
Maurice Belanger et al
Original Date of Publication: 
November, 2017

Dating back to the earliest days of the Republic, immigrants have played an integral role in the defense of the United States and its assets around the globe. In the mid-19th century, half of all Army recruits were immigrants, and in 2016, 11 percent of U.S. veterans were first- or second-generation immigrants. During past wars, immigrants were permitted to serve if they declared their intent to become citizens and then were granted citizenship in recognition of their service. However, in 1961 Congress added lawful U.S. residency as a condition for recruitment, one of many hurdles potential immigrant recruits now face. "For the Love of Country: New Americans Serving in our Armed Forces" highlights not only the historical contributions of immigrants to the U.S. military but also their potential to strengthen today's military by: expanding the pool of eligible candidates, providing critical linguistic diversity and cultural competencies, and improving retention rates. It also outlines the unique challenges faced by immigrant recruits and veterans alike such as worrying about potential deportation of undocumented family members while serving overseas or facing deportation after completion of their own military service. The report calls on Congress and the White House to modernize the immigrant recruitment process through reforms that would allow undocumented immigrants to serve, provide pathways to citizenship for service members, and support families of immigrant service members thereby ensuring fair treatment in light of their service to the country. (Jonathan Eizyk for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

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Maurice Belanger et al. (2017). For Love of Country: New Americans Serving in Our Armed Forces (p. 29). Washington, D.C.: National Immigration Forum. Retrieved from

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