Coffman Urges Action on Immigration Reform Proposal

Coffman Sends Letter to House Majority Leader to Support Pathway to Citizenship through Military Service

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Washington, DC, January 2, 2014 | comments

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) sent a letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) urging action on his legislative proposal, H.R. 435, the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act, that would authorize undocumented individuals, who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who otherwise meet all military requirements for enlistment, be allowed to join the armed forces and have a pathway to citizenship based on their military service. 

“Although some may find military options for non-citizens to be a novel approach, the history of the United States Armed Services tells a different story.  German immigrants served in the Continental Army at Valley Forge;  Irish immigrants served during the Civil War; European immigrants of all backgrounds served during World War I and World War II; and many others served in the Korean, Vietnam, and other modern conflicts,” wrote Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.

Coffman retired from the military after a combined 21 years of service between the U.S. Army, the Army Reserve, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps Reserve.  He is the only member of Congress to have served in both the first Gulf War and in the Iraq War.  Coffman strongly believes that young undocumented immigrants, who were illegally brought to the United States as children, should have the opportunity to apply to enlist in the military.  

Under Coffman’s legislation, visa holders, who are residing in the United States and are currently not eligible to serve, such as foreign students completing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math, will also be able to apply to enter the military and to earn a path to citizenship based on their service. 

One reason why Coffman wants these new recruits to become U.S. citizens is because noncitizens are not allowed to hold the security clearances that are required for an increasing number of career fields in today’s military.   Having them immediately processed for citizenship will allow the military to use these new recruits to their highest potential.  However, under Coffman’s proposal, their citizenship would be revocable if they failed to complete their service obligation or are discharged under less than honorable conditions.

“For America to take full advantage of the talents of these individuals we must highlight the benefits of a path for naturalization through the military.  As such, I urge you to support future hearing in the House Armed Services Committee on this subject and include H.R. 435 in immigration legislation so that our colleagues and their constituents can fully realize the value of this untapped domestic resource,” concluded Coffman’s letter.

The letter to U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) can be found here

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