Noncitizens allowed to serve in U.S. military
Question: With the recent debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, I have read that there are members of the U.S. military that are not citizens. Isn’t proof of citizenship a requirement to join any branch of our military?
— Frank Manfre, Grayson, Ga.
Answer: Noncitizens who are legal permanent residents have been eligible to enlist in U.S. military service since the country’s founding, according to military.com, a military and veterans membership organization.
However, military.com says there are some restrictions. Noncitizen enlistees cannot obtain security clearance and are not allowed to re-enlist until they become U.S. citizens. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is authorized to expedite the naturalization process for enlisted noncitizens and veterans.
Noncitizen enlistees still must demonstrate good moral character, knowledge of the English language, U.S. government and history, and take an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Since 2013, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have provided noncitizens the opportunity to naturalize when they complete basic training, USCIS states. Citizenship acquired through military service may be revoked if they leave the military under “other than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable service.
About 35,000 noncitizens are currently serving active duty and about 8,000 join the military each year, military.com reports.
DACA enrollees are not considered legal permanent residents, so with the exception of a few hundred who qualified in the Department of Defense’s special Military Accessions Vital to National Interest recruitment pilot program, they are not eligible to enlist in military service.
Q: Can you please tell me when a vote is taken in the U.S. Senate, which items or votes require a simple majority of 51 votes and which ones need a super majority of 60 votes?
— Bob Strong, McDonough, Ga.
A: Constitutionally speaking, there are few instances in which a super-majority vote is required to pass a measure in the U.S. Senate. Those include, according to usconstitution.net, requiring a two-thirds majority (67) to convict in an impeachment, expel a member of the Senate, override a presidential veto, ratify a treaty and pass a constitutional amendment.
However, most actions require only a simple majority vote (51) to pass — if the debate over the bill has ended and it can be brought to a vote.
But the Senate is the legislative chamber that traditionally allows unlimited debate and unlimited opportunities to amend bills. Prior to 1917, that meant if a senator wanted to prevent a bill from being put to a vote, he could filibuster indefinitely.
In 1917, however, the Senate adopted its first cloture rule that created an opportunity to end debate and bring a filibustered bill to a final vote. According to the U.S. Senate, that cloture rule “required a two-thirds majority to end debate and permitted each member to speak for an additional hour after that before voting on final passage.”
A 67-vote majority to invoke cloture was incredibly difficult to obtain, however, and by 1975, the Senate changed the rule to allow cloture to be invoked with only a three-fifths majority — or 60 votes. ———
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