Nonci­t­i­zens al­lowed to serve in U.S. mil­i­tary

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NEWS -

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 mil­i­, a mil­i­tary and veter­ans mem­ber­ship or­ga­ni­za­tion.

How­ever, mil­i­ 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, mil­i­ 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 us­con­sti­tu­, 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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