Whenever restrictionist groups calculate the cost of an immigrant, they inevitably overlook the contributions of immigrant veterans who fight and die on behalf of Americans every single day. Immigrants have voluntarily served in all branches of the U.S. military from the beginnings of our great nation. In fact, without the contributions of immigrants, the military could not meet its recruiting goals and could not fill the need for foreign-language translators, interpreters, and cultural experts.
According to Margaret Stock:
As of June 30, 2009, there were 114,601 foreign-born individuals serving in the armed forces, representing 7.91 percent of the 1.4 million military personnel on active duty. Roughly 80.97 percent of foreign-born service members were naturalized U.S. citizens, while 12.66 percent were not U.S. citizens.
In 2010 alone, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted citizenship to 11,146 members of the U.S. armed forces – the highest number of service members naturalized in any year since 1955.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the top two countries of origin for foreign-born military personnel are the Philippines and Mexico.
News reports have also highlighted the grimmer statistics and stories of those who have lost their lives serving our nation. The families they leave behind are due our respect and appreciation. Veteran’s day is an appropriate time to take stock and remember those brave immigrants who thought so much of their adopted country that they made the ultimate sacrifice on its behalf.
USCIS Director Alejandro Majorkas said it best:
Many of our service members have risked their lives across the globe before becoming citizens here at home. Their brave acts, and those of more than 65,000 service members who have become citizens since 2001, demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to America. We are enriched by their decision to serve our nation and to join us as United States citizens.
Photo by US Army Korea.