President Donald Trump is both a staunch advocate for fortifying the U.S. military and for halting illegal immigration, leaving many uncertain about his position on noncitizens serving in the military.
According to Defense Department official Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, Trump will carry on a long-standing policy that allows immigrants to serve and gives those who do a pathway to citizenship.
“Today's service members are eligible for expedited citizenship under a July 2002 executive order and the military services have worked closely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to streamline citizenship processing for service members,” Caggins said last week in an email to Fox News. “Law ensures that the sacrifice of noncitizens during a time of national need is met with an opportunity for early citizenship, to recognize their contribution and sacrifice.”
He said there are no plans to stop or change the initiative.
Data from the DoD show that as many as 18,700 noncitizns were on active duty from 2010 to 2016 and that about 5,000 legal permanent citizens are recruited each year under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program, which was launched in 2009.