A group of veterans gathered in Washington, D.C., this Thursday to hold a press conference in which they voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform. The group, known as Veterans for Immigration Reform or Vets4Reform, used the conference to present a paper they had collaboratively authored entitled “On the Front Line: Impacts of Immigrants on Military Force Readiness”. The paper outlines the powerful and positive effect that immigrant soldiers have had on the United States military, a motive for supporting reform that these individuals have experienced firsthand.
Veterans have come to be one of the most vocal demographics in advocating for an expedited solution to the immigration crisis. This is not entirely surprising once the numbers are brought into consideration. Approximately 12 percent of all living veterans are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and in 2013 65,000 active military personnel were immigrants. Those 65,000 individuals comprised 5 percent of American active enlisted military that year. The founder of Veterans for Immigration Reform, Brett Hunt, blogged on the group’s website regarding his take on the matter.
“Those men and women [immigrant soldiers] came from places like Mexico, Honduras and Vietnam and chose to defend our country,” wrote Hunt. “They were part of a great tradition that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War of immigrants taking up the charge of defending their adopted homeland. I have a duty to get their back and ensure that our country does right by them.”
While Hunt and these veterans are certainly not alone in their support of immigration reform, many suggest that the issue may have hit a wall for the remainder of the year. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who may have been the best chance reform advocates had at pushing the stalled immigration bill through the GOP-led House, lost his primary election this week to Dave Brat, an economics professor from Virginia who has campaigned as staunchly anti-amnesty.