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Immigrants in the Military

September 21st, 2012 by Romona Paden

Only U.S. citizens and immigrants with permanent resident cards can join the military. After learning about Deferred Action, the policy enacted by the Obama Administration in 2012, this fact may not seem quite right.

A few years ago, the system for checking documents for entrance into the military was more lenient. Perhaps that could have caused some undocumented people to join and serve. Nevertheless, this inclusion in the DACA list of eligible individuals has confused many people, including government officials.

Deferred Action and the Military

Deferred Action gives relief to undocumented youth by stopping a potential deportation for a period of two years. It also grants recipients work authorization and the access to a driver’s license. To be eligible for Deferred Action, DACA, a person could have had served in the military.

An applicant is required to provide proof that he or she was honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces. So how can some undocumented immigrants enter the military? It’s hard to say because the U.S. government does not approve of it.

If someone is able to enter the military without legal status, the U.S. military has allowed it to happen unknowingly. The only people allowed to serve are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and permanent residents with a U.S. green card.

In a statement from the Department of Defense, it was stated that, “Unless the current law were to be changed, or an individual were declared by the services to be vital to the national interest, the services are not permitted to enlist illegal immigrants.”

This means that not very many undocumented youth seeking to apply for the DACA program will fit into this category. Since the figure would be so low, some question why it was even included. New policy always confuses people. If it isn’t because of the actual policy, it is because one of the specifics seems to not coincide with current law.

The most important thing to know, when it comes to immigrants in the military, is that it is wrong to think that joining the military will eventually make someone eligible for Deferred Action. Undocumented immigrants are not even allowed to join the military in the first place.

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