[Senate Hearing 109-884]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
S. Hrg. 109-884
CONTRIBUTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
JULY 10, 2006
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COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
JOHN WARNER, Virginia, Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona CARL LEVIN, Michigan
JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts
PAT ROBERTS, Kansas ROBERT C. BYRD, West Virginia
JEFF SESSIONS, Alabama JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut
SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine JACK REED, Rhode Island
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii
JAMES M. TALENT, Missouri BILL NELSON, Florida
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia E. BENJAMIN NELSON, Nebraska
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina MARK DAYTON, Minnesota
ELIZABETH DOLE, North Carolina EVAN BAYH, Indiana
JOHN CORNYN, Texas HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, New York
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
Charles S. Abell, Staff Director
Richard D. DeBobes, Democratic Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF WITNESSES
Contributions of Immigrants to the United States Armed Forces
july 10, 2006
Martinez, Senator Mel, U.S. Senator from the State of Florida.... 15
Chu, Hon. David S.C., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel
and Readiness.................................................. 17
Pace, Gen. Peter, USMC, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.......... 20
Gonzalez, Emilio T., Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Rascon, Alfred, Former Director, Selective Service............... 39
Stock, Margaret D., Associate Professor of Constitutional and
Military Law, United States Military Academy................... 41
CONTRIBUTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS TO THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
MONDAY, JULY 10, 2006
Committee on Armed Services,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:00 a.m., at
Miami-Dade Community College, 245 NE. 4th Street, Miami,
Florida, Senator John Warner (chairman) presiding.
Committee members present: Senators Warner, McCain, Graham,
Other Senator present: Senator Martinez.
Other Representative present: Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.
Committee staff member present: Charles S. Abell, staff
Majority staff members present: Sandra E. Luff,
professional staff member; and Richard F. Walsh, counsel.
Minority staff member present: Gerald J. Leeling, minority
Staff assistants present: Jessica L. Kingston; Benjamin L.
Rubin; and Pendred K. Wilson.
Committee members' assistants present: John Ullyot, press
secretary to Senator Warner; Becky Jensen, assistant to Senator
McCain; Matthew R. Rimkunas, assistant to Senator Graham; and
Ester Olavarria, assistant to Senator Kennedy.
Other assistant present: Nilda Pederosa, assistant to
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN WARNER, CHAIRMAN
Chairman Warner. Good morning, everyone. The Senate Armed
Services Committee is very pleased to come together here in
this historic part of America for what we regard as a very
important and, indeed, historic hearing.
Our committee members are pleased to be joined by the
distinguished Senator from Florida, Senator Martinez.
The committee meets today to receive testimony on the
contributions of immigrants to the United States Armed Forces
throughout America's history.
I recognize our distinguished colleague, Senator Martinez
of Florida, and thank him for his participation; and I also
note that Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is present, and we welcome
I'm pleased to have before the committee, on our first
panel, the distinguished Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General Peter Pace, United States Marine Corps; and the
Honorable David Chu, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel
and Readiness. We welcome you, gentlemen.
General Pace has been the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff since September 30, 2005. He is the first United States
marine to hold this office; and, as Chairman, serves as the
principal military advisor to the President of the United
States, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security
General Pace, who is himself the son of an Italian
immigrant, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in
1967, and served thereafter with distinction in Vietnam as a
rifle platoon leader with the First Marine Division.
He also served at every level of command in the United
States Marine Corps during his remarkable career, and was
commander of the U.S. Southern Command in 2000 and 2001, and
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from August 2001
through September 2005.
Secretary Chu, likewise, has a very distinguished record of
public service. He advises the Secretary of Defense on policy
related to readiness, recruitment, career deployment, pay, and
benefits for military members, and was appointed in June 2001.
He began his distinguished career of public service in 1981
as the Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation in the
Office of the Secretary of Defense, serving under three
Secretaries of Defense in that period.
Gentlemen, we thank you for joining us today.
In our Armed Forces today, there are over 60,000 immigrants
and naturalized American citizens serving on active duty and in
the Guard and Reserve. They follow in the footsteps of
soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, from previous
generations who immigrated from foreign lands, and, likewise,
served with distinction.
I might add that when I was Secretary of the Navy, one of
my principal advisors, and a man I admired greatly, the
``Father of the Nuclear Navy,'' Admiral Rickover, was an
In our nation-wide debate today on the very important
issues regarding immigration, and as part of the oversight
responsibilities of Congress regarding proposed legislation now
pending before both Houses, we receive this testimony.
Today, the committee will listen to these two panels of
witnesses, on the historic and contemporary role of immigrants
in the United States military, and about issues affecting the
continuing ability of immigrants to serve in the Armed Forces
of the United States.
The ability to become a naturalized citizen by virtue of
military service has been authorized in law since 1952.
Recent changes since the attacks of September 11, 2001,
brought about by statute and Presidential Executive order, have
simplified the process of achieving citizenship by military
We've all read about recent naturalization ceremonies held
in Iraq, Afghanistan, United States, and around the globe.
The committee will cover in this hearing how to further
enhance opportunities for immigrants to serve in the Armed
Forces and achieve that citizenship.
Further, the Armed Services Committee today, since we have
responsibility for the Guard and Reserve, given the important
new mission the President of the United States has assigned to
the National Guard, Operation Jump Start, in which the National
Guard augments the Border Patrol along our southern border, I
will also seek testimony from both of these witnesses about
The National Guard has been performing a mission on our
border for some period of time, but this presidential directive
adds a very significant strengthening to the security of that
Before I turn to Senator McCain, I note that I've received
a letter from Congressman Diaz-Balart, that, without objection,
I'll put in the record.
[The information referred to follows:]
Chairman Warner. I also received a letter from General
Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
that Senator McCain will speak to momentarily.
Senator Kennedy. Thank you very much. I want to thank
Senator Warner, who is the chairman of the Armed Services
Committee, for having this extremely important committee
meeting today about the role of immigrants and their service in
the military of this country, which has been one of great
distinction. I think we'll hear from General Pace on that in a
I also want to say what a pleasure it is to be here with
our host, Senator Mel Martinez, and thank him so much for his
generosity in welcoming us all here, and also for his eloquence
and passion on so many issues; but, particularly, on the issues
of immigration reform.
It's a great honor, as well, to be here with Senator
McCain, who has provided such leadership in bringing this
country to a sensible and responsible view and position on the
quite complex issue of immigration reform.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who is also here, has been
absolutely indispensable in helping to bring good insights into
this issue on the floor of the Senate.
It is a real honor for me to be here, and I join the
chairman of the committee in thanking the campus president, Dr.
Montoya, for welcoming us all here; and the chair of the board
of trustees, Helen Ferre, for welcoming us all.
This is an urban community college that provides vital
educational opportunities to so many individuals here in this
community and in the greater community, and it's an educational
institution of distinction; I think all of us feel greatly
honored that they would help provide us the chance to come
together and have this important hearing today.
When immigrants join the military, they take the same oath
of enlistment as any American soldier, sailor, airman, or
This is what they say: ``I do solemnly swear I will support
and defend the Constitution of the United States against all
enemies, foreign and domestic; I'll bear true faith and
allegiance to the same; I'll obey the orders of the President
of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed
over me according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of
Military Justice. So help me, God.''
I can think of no greater commitment to their adoptive
land. They take that solemn promise to heart, and, in all of
our wars, immigrants have fought side by side with Americans
with great valor.
Immigrants make up 5 percent of our military today. They
earn 20 percent of the Congressional Medals of Honor, and at
least 101 have made the ultimate sacrifice to our country in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
I understand they have also been awarded 150 bronze stars
for valor and gallantry in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 2 silver
stars. It's an extraordinary record.
Naturalization has a special place in our society, and it
is a uniquely powerful moment when new citizens embrace our
Nation and our Nation embraces them. Naturalized citizens are
Americans by choice, and that choice is a great tribute to our
country and its ideals.
Given the deep commitment of these immigrants to our land,
it is an affront to their noble military service to declare the
12 million undocumented immigrant men, women, and children to
be criminals, as some in Congress have done; and it is an
insult to their dedication to our defense when the far right in
Congress makes the wrong-headed bumper-sticker claim that the
solution to our immigrant problem is just to build more fences
and add more Border Patrols.
Clearly, we must take serious steps to secure our borders
and enhance enforcement, but common sense suggests that we are
not going to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants.
Instead, we owe it to our Nation to take into account what
these hardworking immigrant families have to offer to America
and provide them with a path to earn the privilege of American
Once again, we honor the immigrants who serve in our
military, especially in these difficult and dangerous times. I
commend the committee for convening this hearing, and I thank
the distinguished witnesses for their testimony here today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Senator Kennedy follows:]
Prepared Statement by Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Mr. Chairman, I commend you for holding this important hearing on
the contributions of immigrants in the United States Armed Forces to
the defense of our Nation.
I also want to commend Senator Warner, Senator McCain, Senator
Graham, and Senator Martinez for their leadership in moving us forward
toward realistic immigration reform.
If anyone doubts the many benefits that immigrants bring to our
country, they need to look no farther than their valiant service in the
United States military.
These immigrants could easily have taken civilian jobs to care for
their families. But today, more than 60,000 naturalized citizens and
permanent residents now wear the uniform of the United States of
America. They take the same oath of enlistment as any American soldier,
sailor, airman, or marine.
``I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign
and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the
same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the
United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me,
according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military
Justice. So help me God.''
I can think of no greater commitment to their adopted land.
They take this solemn promise to heart. In all of our wars,
immigrants have fought side by side with Americans--and with great
valor. They make up 5 percent of our military today, but over our
history have earned 20 percent of the Congressional Medals of Honor. At
least 101 have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in Iraq and
Since the President and Congress made changes to expedite
citizenship applications filed by immigrant men and women in our armed
services, more than 13,000 servicemembers have naturalized. I have had
the honor and privilege of participating in military naturalization
ceremonies for some of these ``green card troops.''
Naturalization has a special place in our society. It is the
uniquely powerful moment when new citizens embrace our Nation, and our
Nation embraces them. Naturalized citizens are Americans by choice, and
that choice is a great tribute to our country and its ideals.
Given the deep commitment of these immigrants to our land, it is an
affront to their noble military service to declare the 12 million
undocumented immigrant men, women, and children to be criminals, as
some in Congress have done. It is an insult to their dedication to our
defense when the far right in Congress makes the wrong headed bumper
sticker claim that the solution to our immigration problems is just to
build more fences and add more Border Patrols.
We have tried that before and it doesn't work. This simplistic
proposal led by the far right in Congress is a formula for failure. It
would leave us weaker and less secure.
Americans know that our immigration system is broken. But they also
understand that immigration is a complex issue that requires a
Clearly, we must take serious steps to secure our borders and
enhance enforcement. But common sense suggests that we are not going to
round up 12 million undocumented immigrants and deport them. Instead,
we owe it to our Nation to take into account what these hard working
immigrant families have to offer to America's strength, security, and
values in the years ahead. We must provide a path for them to learn
English, pay their taxes, show a steady work history, and earn the
privilege of American citizenship. We must establish a means for future
immigrants to come here legally to meet the legitimate needs of our
employers for more workers.
We must also enact the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien
Minors (DREAM) Act, which is included in the Senate bill. This
bipartisan compromise will enable immigrant students to pursue higher
education like citizens, or join the military, as many are eager to do.
The DREAM Act is the right title, since the act will give thousands of
bright, hard-working immigrant students a chance to pursue their
``American Dream.'' By denying them these opportunities, we deny our
country their intelligence, their creativity, their energy, and often
President Bush and a bipartisan majority in the United States
Senate support this comprehensive immigration reform. Religious
leaders, business leaders, and community leaders are calling on
Congress to pass it this year.
These leaders support comprehensive reform because they are
eyewitnesses to the patriotic spirit of our courageous immigrants in
uniform as well as the many, many other immigrants who are part of our
extraordinary history and heritage. Immigrants are an indispensable
element of what makes America the Promised Land. They have contributed
immensely to our communities. They have created new jobs, and even
whole new industries, and have helped make America the land of freedom,
hope, and opportunity that it is today.
Once again, we honor those immigrants who serve in our military,
especially in these dangerous and difficult times. I commend this
committee for convening this hearing on such an important subject, and
I thank the distinguished witnesses for their testimony today.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much, Senator Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy, you've been a great leader on the floor of the
Senate with regard to the immigration bill, and you have
collaborated with my long-time good friend, Senator McCain.
I want to particularly thank Senator McCain, together with
Senators Graham and Martinez, because the original concept of
this hearing was provided by these three distinguished
Senator McCain. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to
thank you for holding and chairing this hearing, and also for
your involvement in this issue.
I'm always pleased that Senator Kennedy, and my friends,
Senators Graham and Martinez, are here. I would like to thank
the community college for their hospitality again, and of
course, we would like to thank Mayor Manny Diaz for his
hospitality here in Miami.
As everyone knows, Congress has been engaged in an
immigration debate for over a year now. I would like to begin
by saying that any reform--any reform--that is ultimately
adopted by both bodies of Congress, and signed into law by the
President, must address all aspects of the immigration debate.
It cannot, should not, and will not be an enforcement-only
policy. An enforcement-only strategy will not make our Nation
safer or more economically sound.
Though our hearing today will primarily focus on one aspect
of the contributions immigrants make in our society, we cannot
lose sight of the fact that our Nation cannot survive as a
leader in this world without the life blood and vitality
provided by immigrants.
It is not enough to secure our borders and go home. We must
recognize this need for immigration in our country, and deal
with those immigrants that are already here in a humane, fair,
and just way.
Immigration reform is a very important and complex subject
that is among the most difficult and divisive we face. Without
comprehensive immigration reform, our Nation's security and
economy are vulnerable.
Those of us from border States witness every day the impact
illegal immigration is having on our friends and neighbors, our
country, and cities' services, our economy, and our
environment. We deal with the degradation of our lands and the
demands imposed on our hospitals and other public resources.
It's a matter of life and death for many living along our
border. We have hundreds of people flowing across our borders
every day, and an estimated 11 to 12 million people living in
the shadows in every State in our country.
Our current system doesn't protect us from people who want
to harm us. It does not meet the needs of our economy, and it
leaves too many people vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Mr. Chairman, we need immigrants in this country. The
current immigration system does not adequately and lawfully
address this need.
As long as the situation exists without a legal path for
immigrants to enter the country, we will have desperate people
illegally crossing our borders and living in the shadows of our
towns, cities, and rural communities. That is not acceptable,
particularly when we are fighting a war on terrorism.
The vast majority of individuals attempting to cross our
borders do not intend to harm our country. They're coming to
meet our demand for labor and to earn money to feed their
We've seen time and again that as long as there are jobs
available in this country for people who live in poverty and
hopelessness in other countries, those people will risk their
lives to cross our borders no matter how formidable the
Most will be successful. By the Border Patrol's own
estimates, 99 percent of those apprehended coming across the
border are doing so for work. However, the Border Patrol is
overwhelmed by these individuals. They cannot possibly
apprehend every crosser being smuggled in, no matter how many
resources we provide.
That's why any new immigration law must establish a legal
channel for immigrants to enter the United States, after they
have passed background checks and have secured employment. Then
we can free up Federal officials to focus on those individuals
intending to do harm through drug smuggling, human trafficking,
Throughout our Nation's history, immigrants have proven to
be hardworking, ingenious, and prosperous. The armed services
provide a unique opportunity and ability for immigrants to
better their place and position.
More than 20 percent, as you noted, Mr. Chairman, of the
recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Nation's
highest decoration, have been immigrants. The creation of the
submarine, the helicopter, and the ironclad ship, all resulted
from newcomers to our country.
Additionally, during World War II, a combat team made up of
the sons of Japanese immigrants was the most decorated regiment
of its size. Some of our most decorated and famous service men,
including former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, are first-
generation Americans or immigrants themselves.
Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence, I would like to read
the letter submitted for this hearing by Secretary Powell,
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dear Chairman Warner: I am pleased to hear that the
Senate Armed Services Committee will be convening a
hearing regarding the contributions of immigrants to
our armed services.
I deeply appreciate your invitation to give
testimony, and regret being unable to attend. I hope
you will permit me to convey my experiences as the son
of immigrants and articulate both the important role
immigrants' service plays in our Armed Forces, and the
need to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
My parents, Luther and Maud Ariel Powell, emigrated
from Jamaica in the 1920s, and settled in a
neighborhood in the South Bronx, New York. My father
worked as a shipping clerk; my mother, a seamstress. I
grew up surrounded by two cultures, and took pride in
my immigrant roots.
Upon graduating from college, I took a commission in
the Army, and found, in that institution, opportunities
to strive and succeed beyond my imagination. From the
greens of Lexington and Concord, to the sands of Iraq,
Americans have continually answered the call to arms
and successfully defended our way of life. I am proud
that much of that military success can be attributed to
the contributions of immigrants.
The burden of defending our ideals and freedom has
always been shared by those who were not yet citizens.
I have witnessed time and again the bravery and valor
of soldiers defending a country that they consider
their adopted home. They are grateful for the
opportunities the United States provides, and we are
grateful for their sacrifices.
As President Bush has stated, our Nation is in
desperate need of an overhaul of our immigration laws.
This must be done in a comprehensive manner to ensure
that we provide the same opportunities for future
immigrants as were available to my parents.
While we ensure our national security and secure our
borders, we must also recognize the socially,
economically, and culturally revitalizing force
immigrants play in America. America's diversity is the
basis for its greatness, and we're a country that
prides itself on our openness to change.
Those wishing to cause us harm cannot alter this
fundamental American ideal, and, in order to preserve
it, we must continue to embrace those who come to our
shores, not just those who have already benefited from
the American dream.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to add my voice
to this important discussion.
[The information referred to follows:]
Senator McCain. Mr. Chairman, let me just say, there are
numerous examples of immigrants who have already given their
lives, as our witnesses will testify. I'm hopeful that at the
end of the immigration debate, we can show the American people
that we addressed a serious and urgent problem with sound
judgment, honesty, common sense, and compassion.
We must address immigration reform in a comprehensive--yes,
comprehensive--manner. We cannot throw money at our borders and
call it a day. If all we do is attempt to secure our borders,
and nothing else, we will have failed the American people.
I have no doubt that we will learn today of the sacrifices
that many immigrants have made for their adoptive home. If we
do not provide the same opportunities for future immigrants
that were provided for our forefathers, it is an affront to our
national ideals. We owe these servicemen more for the
sacrifices that they have made for this country.
In closing, I hope we will move forward in a thoughtful,
productive manner, and call on both Houses to put the rhetoric
and demagoguery aside, and sit down for meaningful discussions.
It's past time to act, and the American people are losing
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence.
Chairman Warner. I've been privileged to have known Senator
McCain since we were associated together in the war in Vietnam
in the Navy. I was his boss then. Now he orders me around.
Senator McCain. Barely.
Chairman Warner. Anyway, Senator McCain brings a very
important, rugged, tough, determined brand of courage to this
effort, as he does to many efforts. I associate myself with
your goals on immigration, Senator McCain, and pledge to work
with you and others to achieve them on behalf of our country.
Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that.
Chairman Warner. Thank you.
Senator Graham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to
recognize your courage for even having this hearing.
Miami's a good place to have it, by the way. It's really a
pretty place. I'm not running for mayor, so you can relax.
But this is the summer of hearings. This is the battle
between the House and the Senate. We're going to different
places in the country, talking to different people, not so much
to be informed, I think, as to persuade.
I really appreciate Chairman Warner allowing the Senate to
have hearings, because the House started this; and I hope when
it's all said and done that something good will come from it.
The reason I think it's important to focus on the military,
number one, if there was an easy solution to the immigration
problem, I would have already found it, because I pride myself
on being the master of the obvious. This is not easy.
President Bush deserves a lot of credit, in addition to the
members on this panel and all those who wade into this. Our
President understands it very well. He comes from a border
state. He understands that there's more than one thing that we
have to do to solve this problem.
It is about jobs. Forty percent of the people who come into
our country illegally never cross the border. They're visa
overstays. They have a legal path for a temporary period. They
come here, they like it, and they won't leave.
What is it about America that makes people want to cross
the desert and die to get here? What is it about America that
people literally risk their lives to come here? What is it
about America that somebody will flee Cuba when they're a
teenager to come?
We know what it's about, and I hope we don't lose that in
this debate. To me, this is a welcome debate.
How many countries have this problem of so many people
wanting to come and be part of it?
I think it is a testament to who we are, and the way we've
lived our lives for 200 years; and I hope, when this debate is
over, that people will still see America as a place they want
To those who engage in this debate, your words are being
listened to. You're writing a new chapter in American history.
I hope it's a chapter you'll be proud of. Twenty years from
now, when this is all long behind us, I hope what you said,
your grandchildren will be proud of.
To the politicians who are engaging in this debate, you're
writing yet another chapter in American history; and I want
this chapter to end like all chapters have ended, on a positive
In the 1890s, it was the Chinese. In the 1920s, it was
anybody and everybody who came. Now it's mostly Hispanic groups
coming into the country in large numbers, wanting to be part of
We have every right to make sure it's on our terms. We have
a right as a Nation to make sure that laws are observed, and
obeyed, but we also have an obligation when we're trying to
come up with a way to solve this problem not to change who we
Mr. Chairman, I think the worst thing we could do as a
Nation is to tell a young marine in Iraq, General Pace, who's
fighting and literally risking his life for this country, who
is an American citizen by virtue of his birth in the U.S. but
whose parents or grandparents are here illegally, while you're
off in Iraq, fighting and sacrificing for our country, we made
your parents and grandparents felons, and we're going to deport
That is not a message that needs to be sent. That is not a
solution to this problem, but that is a proposal on the table.
The reason we need to have this hearing is to understand that
the policies we pursue speak volumes about who we are and who
we want to be.
I'm honored to be part of this great debate that's been
long overdue. I want to help our President fix this problem. I
look forward to working with Senator Kennedy in a bipartisan
fashion to come up with a solution to a real problem that
America faces. If the solution does not embrace who America is,
if the punishment for the crime is disproportionate to the
crime and doesn't render justice, what good have we achieved?
We have a hearing today where the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff is a first-generation immigrant whose family
came here for opportunity. He will be asked questions by a
United States Senator who fled an oppressive regime when he was
a teenager. To me, that shows what America's all about, and
what America will continue to be.
The answer to the immigration problem lies in our past, and
our past has been a welcoming society who believes not only in
the rule of law, but also in justice. Thank you.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator Graham, for your strong
leadership on this issue, and the acknowledgment of the
importance of having our President committed to the need for
He, likewise, has been tough and determined on this issue.
I think, by and large, the group before you today want to stand
and back him with regard to his goals, which are not really
just his, but our Nation's goals. Thank you, Senator Graham.
STATEMENT OF SENATOR MEL MARTINEZ, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE
Senator Martinez. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I
appreciate so much your courtesy to allow me to participate in
this hearing. I want to welcome all of you, my dear colleagues,
to the State of Florida, a place that I'm so proud to
represent, and particularly the city of Miami, where, under the
great leadership of Mayor Diaz, we are so proud to host this
event here today.
I also want to just extend my thanks to the Chief of the
Miami Police Department for all of the assistance they have
provided to make this event possible.
I'm also extremely proud to be at Miami-Dade College. Helen
Ferre, Chairman of the Board, and President Padron, who is the
President of the college, as well as President Montoya, who
presides over this particular campus, are also here.
We are all so proud to host this event here at this
college. It's a place that I think could not provide a more
fitting backdrop for the debate and the discussion that we're
It is a college which provides a way forward to so many
people who otherwise would not have an opportunity for higher
education. It also serves a population and a community that, as
was pointed out to me when I was proud to be a part of the
commencement exercises this past May, there were at that time
82 flags on the stage where we were presiding, and those 82
flags represented the 82 countries that were represented in
that graduating class that I was addressing that day. That is
This is a college where 8 out of 10 students began their
lives speaking a language other than English. So, it is
important that we recognize at this point in time the
importance of the immigration issue not only to our Nation, but
very much to the State of Florida, as well.
This morning in the news, we saw a report where 3 to 6
million boxes of oranges are going to remain on the trees this
year because there simply wasn't the labor available to harvest
That's an economic loss to our State. It is a significant
loss to the citrus industry, but it also highlights the
problem. In finding the solution to this issue, while it's
obvious that we have to protect our border, that we must do all
that we can, not only to protect the land border between us and
our southern neighbors in Mexico, but we also have a very big
border that, as General Pace so well knows, around the State of
Florida, where there's a lot of opportunity for people to come
in, in a way that could provide a security threat to our
It is important that we secure our border, but, beyond
that, we will not have done our job, we will not have acted
responsibly if we stop there and don't go forward to also deal
with the issue of the need that our Nation has for workers, the
need that our Nation has to have a labor force that can do the
work that needs to be done in so many industries, not only
The hearing today is about the Nation's armed services and
the fact that we have had over our history such a connection
between immigrants and service to our Nation.
I can't help but be reminded of a very early immigrant to
our Nation, who came just as our Nation was becoming a nation,
who ended up here as a 15-year-old boy, immigrated here from
the Caribbean--I relate to that--and within a matter of a very
few years, became the indispensable right-hand person to
General George Washington as he was leading our Armed Forces.
It was Alexander Hamilton, who came from Nevis in the
Caribbean, to become the indispensable right hand of George
Washington during the most difficult times over this Nation's
struggle to become an independent nation.
I am then more recently reminded by the painful loss of my
own cousin, Manuel Mesa, who served this country only a very
few years after arriving in this country from Cuba, and died
somewhere near Pleiku in Vietnam.
I remember the searing pain our family felt at that loss,
his parents, obviously, and sisters and brother, but also the
fact that all of us recognized that he had died doing what he
wanted to do. He volunteered to be a member of our Armed
Forces, and he was proud to serve in Vietnam, in standing up
for this Nation, for our country.
One of the other salient points, Mr. Chairman, that this
debate attempts to address is the issue of human trafficking.
This very weekend, in the news in this community, we were
jolted by the tragic learning of the death on the high seas of
a person that was seeking to enter this country by the
opportunity provided through a smuggler in a fast boat. In a
confrontation with the Coast Guard, in which they were trying
to stop the boat and save lives from this unsafe situation, the
smugglers continued on their path, not only injuring this
woman, but then failing to render timely assistance, which
brought her death.
Over 6 months ago, the death of a 6-year-old boy, who was
again in similar circumstances.
It is important that this bill pass and move forward,
because we need to stiffen the penalties, which this bill does,
for human trafficking. It is necessary and it is important.
Let me just conclude--because I appreciate so much the very
distinguished panel we have with us today--but just pointing
out to our guests that just slightly north of here, just a
couple of blocks, stands the Freedom Tower.
To those of us who knew it in the 1960s, it was called ``El
Refugio,'' a place of refuge. For the Cuban-American community,
it is our Ellis Island. It is the place where it all began.
I can specifically remember my life in America beginning
right here in this city, at the airport where I landed this
morning, on a sunny afternoon in February 1962, my life
beginning there; and, then, some months later, walking to ``El
Refugio,'' the Freedom Tower; my little brother, taking him
there, for the necessary things that had to happen there to
those who were new to this country.
It is such a symbolic place to this community, and I think
that, within the shadows of that building, for us to hold this
hearing and for me to have an opportunity to participate in it
is only yet another testament to the power of America, to the
power of this country and what it stands for, and the beacon of
opportunity that it is to all in the world; and how proud I am
to play a role in shaping the immigration laws in this country
for the future in a way that represents the best of America,
and the best that we are, in the hopes that we can continue to
be that great shining city on the hill for many years to come.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator McCain [presiding]. Thank you very much, Senator
Martinez. We again want to express our gratitude for the
important role that you have played. Every morning, you and I,
and Senator Graham, Senator Kennedy, and others, who gather to
work on the strategy for the day and the week. We thank you for
your incredible participation and what you bring to the debate.
I thank you.
On our first panel are the Honorable David Chu, who is the
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and
General Peter Pace, who is, as we all know, the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Secretary Chu, thank you. Would you begin? As always, your
entire statement will be made part of the record.
STATEMENT OF HON. DAVID S.C. CHU, UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
FOR PERSONNEL AND READINESS
Secretary Chu. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the
committee. It's a privilege to be here this morning.
We are, as is often observed, a Nation of immigrants, and
the service of immigrants in the Nation's military is an
honored tradition. That includes noncitizens.
Noncitizens have served in America's Armed Forces since the
earliest days of the Republic. In more recent decades, I think
members of this committee can remember the Lodge Act, and
subsequent legislation, which allowed the military to recruit
from citizens formerly of Eastern European countries, but not
yet citizens of the United States.
Likewise, the United States Navy, right through the early
1990s, continued to recruit citizens of the Philippines for its
Congress has recently revised the statutes governing the
Department of Defense (DOD) to consolidate the authority for
the recruitment of noncitizens, permitting, for all military
Services, those who are legal permanent residents of the United
States, to join.
Of course, under the President's Executive order, while
under this declaration of national emergency, noncitizens enjoy
expedited citizenship procedures. Your changes in Congress have
further strengthened their ability to apply and be considered
rapidly for citizenship.
I recognize that Congress and the Senate bill pending
action are considering further changes with provisions that
would affect the military service of noncitizens.
Today, we have on the order of 25,000 noncitizens serving
in the Active Forces of the United States military. I should
note that over 10,000 of these individuals score at what's
called 2/2, or better, on the foreign language proficiency
test. That means they score well enough to be able to use that
language in an effective way to support our military
One of the benefits of recruiting noncitizens to the
military force of the United States is to be able to have a
more diverse, and, specifically, a linguistically more
competent military force than we could otherwise recruit.
I should note that nearly 20,000 members of the Reserve
components are, likewise, noncitizens, including, I should
report, approximately 1 percent of the Army National Guard.
The chairman's opening statement mentioned the current
service of the Army National Guard. Its most recent
contribution to the Nation's security, of course, is to staff
the effort to secure the southwestern border of the United
I'm pleased to report that as of today there are just under
3,000 Army National Guard personnel serving in that capacity:
over 300 at the Joint Task Force Headquarters; nearly a
thousand already assigned to the Customs and Border Patrol
missions; and just under 1,600 who are in the process of
joining that force.
I know members of this committee are familiar with the
Army's 09 Lima Program, as it's called, after the military
occupational specialty (MOS) program that is employed.
This represented a specific effort by the Army to recruit
heritage speakers of languages in high demand in current
operations, especially Arabic, Pashtu, and Dari.
With over 300 members of this group, the Army seeks to
expand this military occupational specialty. I should report
approximately three-quarters of these individuals are not
citizens of the United States, although many have applied for
citizenship, and most of those who have applied have completed
that process within a year.
To sum up, noncitizens have long served in the American
military. They continue to serve to this day. They serve well
in the American military, and they supply critical capacities
that are essential to our current military operations.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Chu follows:]
Prepared Statement by The Hon. David S.C. Chu
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, I am pleased
to be here today to discuss the role of immigrants in our Armed Forces.
Our great Nation--a Nation of immigrants--has a long and distinguished
history of the valor and sacrifices made by those who call the United
States home, but are not yet citizens.
I want to focus my remarks today on two areas surrounding
immigrants in the Armed Forces. First, I want to talk about the
contributions noncitizens are making in today's military. Second, I
want to discuss future issues regarding the enlistment of noncitizens.
Since the Revolutionary War, certain noncitizens have been eligible
to enlist in the military. noncitizens have served in the U.S. Armed
Forces for much of our country's history, including the War of 1812,
the Civil War, and both World Wars. Almost half of Army enlistees in
the 1840s were immigrants (noncitizens), and more than 660,000 military
veterans became citizens through naturalization between 1862 and 2000.
The Lodge Act of 1950 (and subsequent Acts in 1951, 1955, and 1957),
for example, permitted noncitizen Eastern Europeans to enlist between
1950 and 1959.
Another example is the Navy's recruitment of Filipino nationals.
The United States officially began recruiting Filipino nationals into
the U.S. Navy in the late 1940s, when it signed the Military Bases
Agreement of 1947 allowing U.S. military bases in the Philippines.
Changes in the agreement and policy capped the number of Filipino
enlistments at 1,000 in 1952, 2,000 in 1954, and 400 from 1973 on. Navy
policy restricted Filipinos to the steward and mess attendant ratings
from WWII until 1973. In total, over 35,000 Filipinos enlisted in the
Navy through the program between 1952 and 1991. The Navy stopped
recruiting Filipino nationals and closed its recruiting facilities in
the region in 1992 because of the end of the Military Bases Agreement,
base closures, and force reduction measures.
Prior to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal
Year 2006, title 10, United States Code, sections 3253 and 8253, stated
that to be eligible for enlistment in the Army or Air Force in time of
peace, an individual must be an American citizen or lawfully admitted
to the United States for permanent residence--that is, possess the so-
called Green Card. While there was no equivalent statute limiting
enlistment in the Navy and Marine Corps, the same citizenship
requirements were applied to those Services as a matter of policy.
The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2006 repealed the Army and Air Force
specific sections of title 10, and established a uniform citizenship or
residency requirement for enlistment in the Armed Forces of the United
States in section 504 of title 10. Enlistment is now authorized for:
A national of the United States
An alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence
A person enlisting in the military under one the following
The Compact of Free Association between the
Federated States of Micronesia and the United States
The Compact of Free Association between the Republic
of the Marshall Islands and the United States
The Compact of Free Association between Palau and
the United States
Notably, that amendment to section 504 also establishes that ``. .
. the Secretary concerned may authorize the enlistment of a person
[other than one listed above] if the Secretary determines that such
enlistment is vital to the national interest.''
Since September 11, 2001, there have been several policy changes
complementary to both the current and pending legislation that may
encourage more noncitizens to consider military service. For example,
today's servicemembers are eligible for expedited citizenship, and the
military services have worked with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) to streamline the citizenship application process for
servicemembers. In fact, we find that many servicemembers attain their
citizenship while serving. President Bush's executive order allowing
noncitizens to apply for citizenship after only 1 day of Active-Duty
military service is still in effect.
Further, the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2004 permanently modified section
328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, reducing the peacetime
waiting period before application for citizenship from 3 years to 1
year of honorable Active-Duty service. Under current Department of
Defense (DOD) policy, applicants may be granted emergency leave and
priority on government transportation if needed to complete citizenship
processing. The military also has initiated several new programs,
including opportunities for those with language skills, which may hold
particular appeal for noncitizens.
In addition, the 2004 NDAA eliminated all application fees for
noncitizens in the military and allowed for the completion of
citizenship applications to be extended to U.S. consulates, embassies,
and overseas U.S. military installations effective October 1, 2004.
Previously, Service personnel were urged to delay their applications
until they were stateside, to avoid missed appointments with
immigration officials or missed mailings.
Today, more than 40,000 noncitizens serve in the military (Active
and Reserve) and about 8,000 permanent resident aliens enlist for
Active-Duty every year. They serve worldwide in all Services and in a
variety of jobs. They represent the United States both at home and
abroad--even on the front lines in the global war on terrorism. Over
25,000 have earned citizenship while serving, and over 100 have made
the ultimate sacrifice in war and have given their lives for this
nation since September 11, 2001.
As you can see, noncitizens are a vital part of our country's
military. Those who serve are patriotic, with over 80 percent
completing their initial enlistment obligation, compared with 70
percent for citizens. noncitizen recruits continue to provide the
Services with a richly diverse force in terms of race/ethnicity,
language, and culture.
Section 1059 of the NDAA for 2006 also provided for up to 50
``Special Immigrant Translators'' per year--a category afforded special
treatment to recognize their sacrifices for national defense in Iraq
and Afghanistan--to be granted lawful permanent resident status, along
with their families. DOD and USCIS are currently implementing this
According to an April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law
Center, there are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien
young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from
high school each year, many of whom are bright, energetic, and
potentially interested in military service. They include many who have
participated in high school Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps
programs. Under current law, these young people are not eligible to
enlist in the military, until and unless the armed services determine
that it is vital to the national interest as provided by section 504.
If their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most of
these young people have no mechanism to obtain legal residency even if
they have lived most of their lives here. Yet many of these young
people may wish to join the military, and have the attributes needed --
education, aptitude, fitness, and moral qualifications. In fact, many
are high school diploma graduates, and may have fluent language
skills--both in English and their native language. Provisions of S.
2611, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors
Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the
United States in uniform.
In his May 15, 2006 speech setting forth his view on immigration
reform, President Bush underscored the fact that certain illegal
immigrants with long-established roots in America should have an
opportunity to pursue citizenship:
``I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our
country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful
penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn
English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who
meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship,
but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait
in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the
law. What I've just described is not amnesty, it is a way for
those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and
demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.''
Thank you, this concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer
any questions from the committee members.
Senator McCain. Thank you.
General Pace, welcome.
STATEMENT OF GEN. PETER PACE, USMC, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF
General Pace. Thank you, sir.
Senator McCain, thank you, sir, to you, and Chairman
Warner, Senator Kennedy, Senator Graham, and Senator Martinez.
This is truly a distinct honor for me to be with you today.
When I received the letter of invitation from Chairman
Warner and Senator Levin, they were kind enough to say in their
letter that if my schedule did not permit me to be here, that I
could send a representative.
There is no place today that I would rather be than sitting
here before you representing the thousands of U.S.
servicemembers, both those who have become citizens through
their service, and those who are seeking to become citizens.
This is an incredible honor for me, both professionally and
We have had thousands of servicemembers--since September
11, some 26,000-plus--who have served in our Armed Forces and
have become citizens. Currently, we have another 3,800 who have
applied, and that process is ongoing. We look forward to having
the opportunity to swear them in as new citizens.
Just 14,000 in the last 2 years have become citizens
through service to their country. Each year, over 8,000 non-
U.S. citizens join our Armed Forces, and they bring with them
an incredible diversity; intellectual diversity, cultural
diversity, and an enormous amount of courage.
I know the second panel has one of the numerous Medal of
Honor recipients who would like to have a chance to sit before
you, and we do him great honor and respect by having him
represent so many.
As you mentioned, Senator Kennedy, just shy of 200 awards,
significant awards, have gone to non-U.S. citizens in this
As was also mentioned, General Shalikashvili left Poland at
age 16, came to the United States and became Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Powell, who is the son of
Jamaican immigrants; and now General Pace, son of an Italian
This country has given to me and my family incredible
opportunity. My dad came here, sometimes worked three jobs, but
the jobs were there for him, and the opportunity was there for
him. He and my mom together provided the opportunity to their
My older sister earned a master's degree and a law degree.
She got a law degree at age 60, just because she wanted to, and
she could in this country.
My older brother went to the Naval Academy, spent 6 years
in the United States Marine Corps, was twice wounded in combat,
and earned the Silver Star medal. He is still my personal hero.
I've had an incredible run myself.
Our younger brother, Tom, earned his master's degree, a law
degree, and is a very successful businessman. There is no other
country on the planet that affords that kind of opportunity to
those who come here.
I am still on active duty today for one primary reason, and
that is, I still owe those who served with me in Vietnam.
I made a promise to Lance Corporal Guido Farinaro, a young
man from Bethpage, New York, who had gone to Chaminade High
School. Every other member of his class, to my knowledge, went
Guido was a first-generation American, and Guido wanted to
serve his country before he went to college. Guido was the
first marine I lost in combat. I promised Guido that as long as
I had the strength, I would serve this country.
He and so many others who have given their lives that we
might hold these kind of hearings--as Chairman of Joint Chiefs
of Staff, I sit in front of the Senate of the United States to
answer questions--that we might do what we do here today and in
Congress so often. We owe so much to so many of our immigrant
Lastly, Chairman Warner, you mentioned, sir, our Guard on
the border. We are so proud of the National Guard. Last year
alone, whether it was tsunami relief in Indonesia, hurricane
relief along our coasts, earthquake relief in Pakistan, or
currently all that they're doing to assist our southern border
States, our Guard has simply performed magnificently.
Dr. Chu mentioned the numbers, and discussed what they're
doing right now. I will not repeat that, but they are doing a
fabulous job for our country.
It's a pleasure to be here in front of you gentlemen, and
to answer your questions. Thank you.
Chairman Warner [presiding]. I believe those who are now
following these hearings, whether in this room or from afar,
recognize why we decided as a committee to hold the hearing and
to have you as our first witness, General.
I've known the General ever since the day I took the office
as Secretary of the Navy. He was a young captain in the
Marines, and he was at that ceremony that day, and we've been
bonded ever since.
I cannot tell you the emotion I felt as you were speaking,
and I apologize. I just received a call from the White House,
again stressing the importance of this hearing, from the
National Security Advisor. I had to step out, but I was able to
hear it, and I thank you, sir.
General Pace. Thank you, sir.
Senator Martinez. Chairman Warner.
Chairman Warner. Yes.
Senator Martinez. I failed during my initial remarks to
introduce a group that's here, and I think it's very relevant
to the hearing, as well. It's a group of Cuban-American
veterans who served our Nation honorably in the Armed Forces,
and are now continuing to be very active in the community. They
are here to watch our hearing today.
I want to give them a special welcome to our hearing.
Senator McCain. Maybe they could stand.
[Cuban-American veterans recognized.]
Chairman Warner. We'll now go to a 6-minute round of
questions, and I'm going to ask Senator McCain to lead off with
Senator McCain. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank
you, Secretary Chu, and thank you, General Pace, for being here
General Pace, all of us are very moved by your heartfelt
Secretary Chu, have you spoken with servicemen who were
working towards citizenship who have already earned their
citizenship while serving?
Secretary Chu. Yes, sir, I have.
Senator McCain. What reasons do they give for wanting to
serve in the military and gain citizenship?
Secretary Chu. The first reason, typically, is they feel,
just as General Pace's comments underscored, an obligation, a
debt, a sense of service to this country. That tends to be
often the principal reason.
They, of course, would like to regularize their
citizenship; and, under expedited procedures now in effect,
they can do so quickly.
Senator McCain. General Pace, on July 4, I understand 76
soldiers serving in Iraq swore their oath of allegiance to
become citizens of the United States. I've heard reports about
ceremonies like this that have become a common occurrence in
the combat theater.
How many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines typically
earn their citizenship each month in the combat area?
General Pace. Sir, it's about 40 per month, usually in
ceremonies like General Casey was able to conduct in Baghdad at
the beginning of this month. There were 70-plus in Baghdad,
some 60-plus in Afghanistan, but over the course of the last 2
years, it's averaged out about 40 per month, sir, in the combat
Senator McCain. What impact does this have?
General Pace. Sir, it has enormous impact. It just sends a
thrill through your body when you stand there next to a fellow
soldier or a marine, and you're in combat, and you see the
energy and the difficulties of the duties that they're
conducting; and, in the middle of all of that, they stand
there, proud, and put their hand in the air and say, they love
this country as much as anybody who was born here. They want to
serve it as honorably as anybody who was born here.
It just makes you proud, as an American citizen, to be able
to open the doors and say, welcome, we are proud to be with
you, and for them to say to you that they admire who you are,
and they want to serve alongside you and be like you, it just
energizes the whole unit to have that happen.
Senator McCain. Thank you, General Pace. I hope that every
American has an opportunity to have viewed your statement here
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Warner. I thank you very much.
Senator Kennedy. Thank you, both. I must say, General Pace,
you had an enormously moving and real statement and comments,
and you said it so well. We just hope that our colleagues in
Congress that are concerned could listen to it, because it
really is what the legislation is about. We thank you so much
for your service to the country, and for continuing to meet
that commitment to that young courageous soldier that you
General Pace. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Warner. Might I suggest that for those members of
Congress who weren't able to see it, those constituents that
did see it should call and share with their member the
sincerity of those remarks, and how those remarks are so
heartfelt, not only to you, but families like yours all over
General Pace. Thank you, sir.
Senator Kennedy. That's why he's our chairman. I agree with
him. Thank you.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator.
Senator Kennedy. Let me ask General Pace several questions
here. There are some commentators who wonder whether we should
allow noncitizens to serve in the military. They question their
loyalty. Some even go so far as to say that limiting military
service to citizens would reduce desertions and treason. You've
been in the armed services a long time, and have served with
and commanded immigrants. Are they good, dependable soldiers?
Are they good, dependable marines?
General Pace. Sir, they are extremely dependable. I can get
you the precise numbers, but I do know from historical
background that some 8, 9, or 10 percent fewer immigrants wash
out of our initial training programs than do those who are
currently citizens. Some 10 percent or more than those who are
currently citizens complete their first initial period of
obligated service to the country.
Senator Kennedy. Those are important numbers, those
completing the training course, and then completing their
service, are impressive.
So, you've found that they're reliable and they're
disciplined. Are they courageous in battle? You've been in
battle, you've had every kind of position, as the chairman has
pointed out in his introduction.
General Pace. Sir, they are reliable, they are courageous.
As you have pointed out, or one of the senators has pointed
out, more than 20 percent of those who have received our
Nation's highest award for heroism in combat have been
Not only are they courageous, but they bring, as I
mentioned, and many of you have mentioned, a diversity,
especially in a current environment where cultural awareness,
language skills, and just the family environment from which
they come, are so important to our understanding of the enemy
and our ability to deal with them.
Senator Kennedy. I'm going to come to that in just a
moment, but Americans, therefore, shouldn't be concerned about
General Pace. They should not. That's correct, sir.
Senator Kennedy. Have there been increases in desertions
because of immigrants in the service?
General Pace. Not to my knowledge, no.
Senator Kennedy. Now, on the issue of language ability and
cultural understanding, our enemies don't speak or fight in
English, at least the ones that we're involved in today.
I think you've mentioned this but can you elaborate just
briefly on some of the special sorts of recruitment programs
that the military offers to a person with a certain language
skill, and how important that is in today's world? Where does
that fit, in terms of a priority?
General Pace. Sir, it's a very high priority. In fact, the
United States Army has a program that Dr. Chu mentioned, that
deals with interpreters who are able to join the Army, and go
forward with our units into combat and provide the very
essential link of being able to talk, in a culturally aware
way, with citizens in a town like Fallujah, Iraq, for example,
where the understanding, not only of what's being said, but
what's not being said, is so important. Only someone with
cultural background can do that.
We have currently, I think it's 282 individuals who are in
that program. We are looking, in all the Services, to entice
others who would like to serve this country, to join, so we can
take advantage of their very unique skills.
Senator Kennedy. I was listening to Senator Martinez talk
about 82 flags being here at the time of the graduation, and
we're very mindful about where our service men and women are
serving, in all kinds of different areas, different cultures
and language; and to hear your stressing the importance of both
language, training, and cultural understanding and awareness as
being important is, I think, very significant.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much.
Senator Graham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Are your parents still alive, General Pace?
General Pace. My mother is, sir. My father died when I was
a lieutenant colonel.
Senator Graham. I'm just imagining that she's bubbling over
with pride; and I'm sure your dad's looking down, very proud,
too. It was a great statement. I think it's what America is
about. It's very hard to talk about your family, even if you're
a marine. Marines cry, that makes you a stronger marine, not a
General Pace. When you have Italian blood in you, yes, sir,
sometimes it wells up and grabs your heart.
Thank you, sir.
Senator Graham. What percentage of the military is
Hispanic? Do you know, Dr. Chu?
Secretary Chu. I would guess it is around----
Chairman Warner. Perhaps you better not make a guess. If
you can provide for the record an accurate number.
Secretary Chu. I'll provide that.
Senator Graham. Do you know what percentage of the Marine
Corps is Hispanic, General Pace?
General Pace. Sir, I do not. I could guess, but I'll get
you the records, sir.
Senator McCain. Could I ask, Dr. Chu, roughly what you
think it is?
Secretary Chu. My belief is it would be on the order of 8
percent, or so; but I'll get you the exact numbers.
Chairman Warner. I didn't hear it. What did he say?
Secretary Chu. Approximately 8 percent would be my
recollection, but let me get you the exact numbers.
[The information referred to follows:]
Senator Graham. The reason I mention that is, it's been my
impression--growing up in South Carolina, it wasn't much of a
Hispanic community, to be honest with you. The first Hispanic
community I was associated with was in the Air Force. I guess
we can tell stories here. I have the microphone, so I'll tell a
The first person I met, General Pace, when I got to active
duty, was Dan Garza. I don't know if Dan's still out there, but
he was the noncommissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) of our
office. You could eat off his uniform. The guy was immaculate.
He was the most prideful-looking military member I've seen yet.
He took a captain under his wing, and made sure I was not
mistreated by the other NCOs on the base, which was very
helpful to me. Through that association, I have found that
there's so many different cultures that come into our military,
but we're here talking, basically, about an illegal immigration
problem that is disproportionately Hispanic.
My time in the military has convinced me that not only--
whatever percentage it is, I have found no better group to
serve with than our Hispanic members of the military.
I would dare say, General Pace, that some members of the
Marine Corps who came here as children, or maybe were born here
have parents who are undocumented.
Do you believe that's a reality?
General Pace. I do, sir.
Senator Graham. What message would we be sending to those
young marines if those of us in Congress with the power we have
made their parents or grandparents felons?
General Pace. Sir, I don't know the exact message you would
be sending to them; but I do know that those who are in
uniform, fighting for the values of this country, would look to
those in leadership to find an honorable path for those who
would like to live here.
Senator Graham. Thank you for your service.
General Pace. Yes, sir.
Senator Graham. No further questions.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much.
Senator Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Pace, I thank you very much for your statement and
for your comments; and the same to you, Secretary Chu.
It was very moving to hear your comments about your family,
General Pace, and what they went through in order for you to be
able to do the things that you've been able to accomplish in
your life. I, like you, am filled with a great sense of service
and the need for giving back, which I know is much of the
feeling that the veterans here today, and so many others in my
I don't know which of you might know the answer to this,
but I know that from time to time we have granted citizenship
to those who have paid the ultimate price on the field of
battle. I wonder if, whichever one of you wants to handle the
question, could talk to us a little bit about that; how that is
done, and how many, if you know.
General Pace. Sir, I'll start; and Dr. Chu can add, if he
would like to.
We've had just over a hundred non-U.S. citizens die since
September 11, in uniform, defending our country.
The process, then, is that their families are all then
eligible for citizenship. If their families apply for
citizenship, then that process is brought forward.
My understanding is that just over 70 of the families have
applied, and those individual deceased servicemembers have been
granted, citizenship posthumously.
I would ask Dr. Chu if he has anything further.
Secretary Chu. Yes. What's interesting is that they come
from all over the world; a significant number from Latin
America, I grant, but some from Africa, for example.
These upgraded procedures which Congress and the
administration put in place have greatly facilitated this
process. It extends, of course, the opportunity of citizenship
to the families, as well. I think that is most gratefully
received, a great step on the part of our Nation.
Senator Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have any
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator Martinez.
Senator Kennedy. That isn't the only way, losing their
life, to obtain citizenship if they're in the Service?
Secretary Chu. No, sir; you're absolutely right.
Senator Kennedy. If you could finish the concept. So, if
they're in the Service, and if they have their resident green
card, or if they're permanent resident aliens, and in the
military, or if they're in the Guard or Reserve, we ought to
change that to permit individuals to be able to become citizens
within a year, but they have to complete their Service.
Secretary Chu. Actually, sir, the 1-year period of service
is the peacetime standard. Under the declaration of national
emergency from the President, and his subsequent executive
order on this point, any servicemember who is serving
honorably, which means you only have to serve at least one day,
may apply for citizenship.
The Customs and Immigration Service (CIS) has worked hard
to improve the procedures through which they complete that
application. The processing application itself has been cut
down to approximately 60 days. It is possible now for a serving
servicemember to complete his or her citizenship process in
less than 1 year from initiation.
Senator Kennedy. We waive the fees?
Secretary Chu. We waive the fees, also.
Senator Kennedy. We also permitted them to be able to do
that overseas, rather than having to return, so that they could
be in combat at the time, and they would be able to do that
overseas, even in areas which are in combat?
Secretary Chu. Yes, sir, that is correct. CIS--Dr.
Gonzalez, can speak to this in his testimony--has further
facilitated the process of doing the paperwork, and so forth.
Senator Kennedy. I thank you. It's important that we've
tried to express our appreciation to those service men and
women who are going into combat, have been in combat, in
danger--maybe not danger, but of going into combat, to be able
to be treated fairly and equitably, and to have that service
recognized; and I thank you.
Secretary Chu. Thank you.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator Kennedy.
This document was just been handed to me, prepared by one
Ester Olavarria, who took her original papers here in the
Would you stand, please? I don't believe she's recognized.
Senator McCain. She has the additional burden of having to
work for Senator Kennedy. [Laughter.]
Chairman Warner. We understand that your mother's proudly
here to join us. We would thank you for coming.
All of us in the United States Senate are very grateful to
our staffs. A number of our staffs came down last night to
prepare for this hearing. So far as I know--I've just
inquired--all of the mechanicals, the acoustics, and everything
else, is working fine; and we thank the university here, and so
These facts which were given to us, which I'll put in the
record, are rather interesting: noncitizens killed in action
during Iraq and Afghanistan: Army, 60; Marine Corps, 38; Navy,
3. Total, 101.
Active-duty citizenship status in the U.S. military as of
May 2006: non-U.S. citizens, 23,127, 2 percent; officers, non-
U.S. citizens, 291. Total, then, of non-U.S. citizens serving
in our forces today, 23,418; roughly just under 2 percent.
America owes a great obligation, and what our duty is now
is to make sure that we prepare the proper laws to enable this
magnificent contribution to continue with regard to the Armed
Forces of the United States.
This panel needs to return to the DOD. I'd ask my
colleagues, are there other questions?
Senator McCain. Mr. Chairman, I just had one question for
General, the Guard is being dispatched to the border in
various border States. Is that having any effect on Guard
readiness, maintenance, and training? What's your view of this
evolution that's taking place?
General Pace. Sir, I've talked at great length with the
leadership of the Guard, to include, early this month, all the
Guard Adjutants General gathered together in Williamsburg,
Virginia. I spent a couple of hours with them.
This is not a readiness problem, sir. Having 6,000 out of
some 400,000-plus Army and National Guard on the borders is not
a readiness problem. In fact, it's a point of great pride to
the National Guard that they were able to provide support to
several authorities in those States.
Senator McCain. The job that they're doing, are they
prepared to do that?
General Pace. Sir, they are. Not only are they prepared to
do it, but it actually enhances their skills, because they'll
be doing the jobs that they're in the military to do.
This will be active duty for training, it will give them a
chance to hone their skills, instead of doing it in their own
home States, perhaps, just as an exercise, instead of being
able to add value, as they are.
Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Warner. Thank you. I wanted to ask a follow-up
question. The relationship between the Governor--and the
Governor is, so to speak, the commander in chief of the Guard
in his or her State, as the case may be--are those
relationships working out, given you have several Governors in
General Pace. Sir, they have worked out. Inside of each
State, there's a joint task force that's working for the
Governor; and, then, as National Guard members from other
States come into those States, there are memorandums of
agreement between the Governors of the States that have
established how they'll serve. That's all done before the first
soldier gets on a plane or a bus to go.
Chairman Warner. That's fine. Secretary Chu, a follow-up on
that question. As you well know, you're trying to manage an
unusual set of dynamics, in that many of these guardsmen are
taking their normal, should we say, summer rotation, on to an
active status. That could be 30 days or less, so, some of these
people will come for short periods of time, which the general
said is very valuable training, equal to that, which they could
perform in their own States.
As a matter of fact, in my visits with the Guard on this,
they say, so often during the summer we have to go out and
build a bridge and then tear it down, because we have to clean
up where we've been practicing. Here, we build a bridge, and
the bridge stays up. Whatever is being done becomes a permanent
part of the security system that we're putting in on the
Could you elaborate, first, on the rotation base, and the
ability to handle that, and how those commissions are training
them as well, if not better, and to some of the opportunities
in their respective States or other training scenarios?
Secretary Chu. I'd be delighted to, sir. Let me take the
second part first, the value of training.
As you've suggested, from the Guard perspective, it's so
much more rewarding to be doing something that you think has a
direct mission effect in sustaining the Nation. I think that's
the core of what we offer here. To the enthusiasm that you see
in the field on the part of the guardsmen and guardswomen,
that's why they're so positive in their response.
To the first issue, some personnel will stay longer, and
they will be volunteers. They will be, typically, in various
pay statuses like that which we call active duty for special
work. They'll provide, essentially, the cadre, the reception
capability, the coordination of effort, the ongoing
infrastructure, so to speak, for the larger mission. The
majority will be coming in on short rotational periods, just as
Chairman Warner. Now, you're integrating that rotational
base very carefully with those Guard units which have just
returned from assignments in Iraq or Afghanistan, are you not,
so as not to impact on the families and the guardsmen?
Secretary Chu. Yes, sir. As I emphasized, those who are
staying longer will be volunteers. They will have made a choice
that they would like to do this. A number of people would like
to do this. It's another chance to contribute. The Guard is
terrific in contributions it has been making to our country's
interest, as I know you appreciate.
For those who are coming for the so-called summer training,
we had already put into place right after the mobilizations of
September 11, 2001, a hiatus, so to speak, after they return
from Iraq or Afghanistan, or other deployments, before they
again do their monthly drills, and before they go back to so-
called summer training. That is already a built-in part of our
Chairman Warner. I thank both witnesses. I'm going to
forebear from asking a series of technical questions. I'll
consider submitting in the record, and invite my colleagues
here with me today, and other colleagues on the committee, to
submit for the record questions regarding this important
hearing between now and the close of business on Thursday, for
the witnesses to give us written replies.
Gentlemen, we thank you very much for making this long trip
down this morning and back to the DOD.
General, you have made history, sir. I say that as a former
marine myself, and with deepest respect for you.
General Pace. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, sir. We'll take a 4-minute
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We'll now have our second
panel. I now invite this panel to come forward.
We welcome Dr. Emilio Gonzalez, Director of the United
States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). That's his
current post, but, prior to that, he had a distinguished career
as an international affairs expert, and served 26 years on
active duty in the United States Army after immigrating to the
Following his military career, Dr. Gonzalez served as a
national security and foreign policy advisor to President Bush,
and was Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs on the National
Security Council. Now, I just spoke to him, and may I add that
one other bit of information that you just gave me about
Mr. Gonzalez. Yes, sir. During the period where I served at
the U.S. Southern Command, I was a Chief of Special Assistants
for General Pace; so, I've had an opportunity to serve with the
General upclose and personal, if you will.
What you saw today was the reason he is the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. I've never come across a finer
individual, a better officer, and a greater leader in the 26
years that I've served on active duty.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Doctor. I compliment you on
your written statement, the historical perspectives that you
offered about immigrant heroes in the revolutionary and civil
wars, at the Alamo, at Pearl Harbor, in Vietnam, and Iraq; and
specifically about Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who died in
Fallujah while saving the lives of his fellow marines.
These wonderful historical perspectives are timely
reminders of the role of immigrants in the Armed Forces, and
their commitment to duty, honor, and country.
We welcome, also, Alfred Rascon, a very distinguished
member of our United States military. He immigrated with his
family from Mexico as a child, and enlisted in the Army in
He was belatedly--that is, many years after the fact--given
a Medal of Honor by the President of the United States and your
Nation--that was in 2000--for your heroic service as a combat
medic with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam in 1966.
After a career with the Department of Justice, and the Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Immigration and Naturalization
Services (INS), he was appointed as Director of the Selective
Service in 2001.
Shortly after the attacks on September 11, however, as a
U.S. Army reservist she voluntarily returned to active duty,
and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, motivating and
supporting soldiers in the field. We thank you, and our Nation
thanks you, Mr. Rascon, for your service.
We also welcome Professor Margaret D. Stock. Professor
Stock is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, the
Harvard Law School, and the John F. Kennedy School of
She served on active duty in the United States Army from
1986 to 1988, and has continued to serve in the U.S. Army
Reserve, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel, and now
instructing in the Department of Social Services at the United
States Military Academy at West Point.
Professor Stock has written extensively on immigration law
and issues affecting immigrant military members who serve and
those who wish to serve in the Armed Forces. Thank you all for
joining us today.
Do you have any comments, Senator Kennedy?
Senator Kennedy. No. I just welcome the panel.
Chairman Warner. Any comments of my colleagues? If not,
then we'll ask you to lead off, Director Gonzalez.
Your written statements--and all of you prepared excellent
written statements--will be put into the record in the full
text. So, there will be times for you to shorten some of your
remarks, but knowing full well that the entire statement is in
Thank you, Director.
STATEMENT OF EMILIO T. GONZALEZ, DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND
Mr. Gonzalez. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator
Kennedy, Senator McCain, Senator Graham, and Senator Martinez.
My name is Emilio Gonzalez, and I'm the Director of the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Thank you
for the opportunity to appear before this Committee on Armed
Services today to testify about the contributions of immigrant
soldiers to our Nation's Armed Forces, and describe
improvements to USCIS processes and operations designed to
facilitate the expedient naturalization of immigrant
servicemembers as new citizens.
As an immigrant to our country, and as a veteran of her
Army, I can relate countless stories of what my service means
to me, how it affected me personally, and positively shaped my
life. However, my story is only one of many when compared to
the more than 45,000 nonimmigrant soldiers, Active and Reserve,
currently serving across the world, and the hundreds of
thousands of immigrants who have served under the Stars and
Stripes throughout our history.
The common bond that unites every soldier, sailor, airmen,
and marine is a commitment to duty, honor, and country. Whether
native-born, naturalized, or not yet U.S. citizens,
servicemembers are unified not by common heritage, race,
religion, or creed, but rather by this universal code that
builds character, breeds conviction, and encourages valor. The
code has a way of superceding nationalities.
The placement of foreign-born and native soldiers together
within a platoon, on a ship at sea, attached to an air squadron
or a fire team, ensures that the only true measure of a
fighting man or woman is their steadfast dedication to the
mission and the reverence to the chain of command.
Throughout their military service, immigrants have gained
valuable insight into the purest forms of our democracy, and
gain an appreciation for the truly American values that allow
any individual, regardless of social class or family pedigree,
to achieve whatever heights he or she sets for themselves.
Immigrant servicemembers experience firsthand that the same
standards that apply in combat, those of tenacity, grit, and
toughness, are transferable to the pursuit of prosperity and
success in the civilian world, as well.
This concept of the American dream is alive and well today
within the Armed Forces. Record numbers of lawful permanent
residents continue to enlist, spurred on by the promise of
expedited citizenship; but, more importantly, a desire to earn
their place in their new communities, and the prospect for a
secure, stable, and successful military career.
By defending the Constitution, immigrant servicemembers
gain an added respect for the enduring civic principles it
guarantees: Those of freedom and opportunity for all men,
equality before the law, respect and tolerance for differences,
and the primacy of individual citizens, and their right to
govern their Nation.
Assimilation, or the patriotic integration of immigrants
into the civil fabric of our Nation, is one of the most complex
challenges we face as a Nation, but also represents one of our
most essential objectives.
Citizenship is not a simple benefit. The certificate of
naturalization is not a handout. American citizenship is an
invaluable distinction and privilege that involves much more
than stamped paperwork and a printed certificate. Rather,
citizenship is an identity that must be cultivated and
nourished by the individual. It is a lifelong journey that
begins with the first step an immigrant takes on American soil,
and ends with their last breath.
We've made improvements at the USCIS to facilitate the
naturalization of foreign-born soldiers, sailors, airmen, and
The most recent improvements to the military and
naturalization process became effective May 1 of this year. In
collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the
DOD, USCIS instituted a change in our fingerprint process to
better serve U.S. military personnel applying for
Under this process, military members applying for
citizenship sign a Privacy Act Statement and Release
Authorization, explicitly consenting to the use of their
fingerprints at the time of enlistment for immigration benefits
purposes, rather than having to wait after they come back from
When deployments don't allow for State-side
naturalizations, USCIS conducts overseas ceremonies for men and
women serving at installations abroad.
Under the authority granted by the 2003 amendment, USCIS
officials have volunteered--and I reiterate, they volunteered--
to travel to Camp Anaconda in Afghanistan, Camp Victory in
Iraq, they've stood on the deck of the U.S.S Kitty Hawk during
exercises in the Sea of Japan, along the demilitarized zone
(DMZ) in South Korea, and traveled from Iceland to Nairobi to
naturalize almost 2,400 men and women who have earned the right
to share in the liberties and freedoms they help to preserve.
In fact, 176 soldiers from almost two dozen countries took
the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens at July 4th
ceremonies in Afghanistan and Iraq. In total, USCIS has
naturalized more than 26,000 service men and women since
September 11, 2001, in the U.S. and overseas.
General Douglas MacArthur said, ``The soldier, above all
men, is required to perform the highest act of religious
teaching, that of sacrifice.''
I do not possess the ability to comprehend the suffering of
losing a spouse, a child, or a parent to war, nor the eloquence
to accurately describe the emotion I feel when I sign a
posthumous naturalization certificate, but when I put pen to
paper, the reality hits me that these individuals are no longer
with us because they've made the ultimate sacrifice to this
As a veteran, husband, parent, and the director of this
great agency, I am proud and extremely honored to serve in
supporting our military men and women and their families. As
such, I'm committed to exhausting every effort to ensure that
all military naturalization applications are processed
expeditiously, so that servicemembers receive this honor on
behalf of a grateful Nation.
I recently traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to swear in 39
members of the Army's Third Corps, and I joined 150 sailors,
marines, airmen, and coastguardsmen aboard the U.S.S. George
Washington in Norfolk, Virginia, for their naturalization
ceremony. Many of these brave men and women have recently
returned from service in Iraq, and had already reenlisted for a
During my time in the Army, I've served under three
Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with immigrant roots. We
have spoken about General John Shalikashvili, an immigrant from
Poland, born of Georgian parents. General Colin Powell, our
former chairman, and our current chairman, General Peter Pace,
a friend and mentor. They are first-generation Americans.
America gave these men and their families home and hope,
and they reciprocated with distinguished service, exceptional
leadership, and boundless patriotism.
Closer to home, Captain Felix Sosa-Camejo followed a
similar path. He came here to Miami as a 20-year-old refugee
from Castro's tyranny and enlisted in the United States Army in
1963. He served on active duty for only 5 years, but Captain
Sosa-Camejo earned 12 citations, including 2 Bronze Stars, 3
Silver Stars, and 2 Purple Hearts.
On February 13, 1968, in the heat of the Tet Offensive, on
the streets of Hue, his lead platoon was pinned down by enemy
fire and unable to reach a wounded comrade. With complete
disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through
intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded man to safety. This
action would earn him his second Bronze Star with a V-device,
but it would also cost him his life.
The battlefield acts as the greatest equalizer amongst men.
From the streets of Hue to the sandy alleyways of Fallujah,
heroes were born of men who came to the United States, not as
mercenaries, but as migrants. Men from Cuba who fought
courageously alongside men from Indiana are buried together in
Arlington, and each are equally regarded as Americans in
It is the promise of equality and the hope for a better
future that has encouraged immigrants over the years to enlist
in our Armed Forces. The prospect of gaining citizenship has
increased these ranks of brave men, but it's the lifelong
commitment to duty, honor, and country that has shaped the will
of men to lay down life and limb, and sacrifice for their
adopted country and comrades in arms. These are qualities that
can only be gained, I believe, through military service.
America is America because of its immigrants. We would not
be the greatest country in the world were it not for our
immigrant roots. Immigrants nourish the tree of liberty. They
strengthen the social fabric. They strengthen everything that
is good about America.
I would be remiss if I did not remind our outside visitors
of what a wonderful city, what a diverse city we're sitting in
today, the city of Miami. Over 60 percent of everybody in this
city was born somewhere overseas. Sixty percent.
In this room, if I might embarrass them: we have our chief
of police, who was born in Ireland, who came to this country in
1961; our mayor, Manny Diaz, who was born in Cuba, came in
1961; my Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also an immigrant;
my Senator, Mel Martinez; and the first lady of my State.
Immigration is what made this country what it is; and, for
me, it is a signal honor to be sitting here before you as an
immigrant, heading the largest immigration service in the
Thank you for the opportunity to be here to testify about
this important subject. This concludes my prepared remarks, and
I would be pleased to take any questions later.
Thank you, sir.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gonzalez follows:]
Prepared Statement by Emilio T. Gonzalez
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: My name is Emilio
Gonzalez and I am the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS). Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the
Armed Services Committee today to testify about the contributions of
immigrant soldiers to our Nation's Armed Forces, and describe
improvements to USCIS processes and operations designed to facilitate
the expedient naturalization of immigrant servicemembers as new
As an immigrant to our country, and a veteran of her Army, I could
relate countless stories of what my service means to me, how it
affected me personally and positively shaped my life. However, my story
is only one of many when compared to the more than 45,000 noncitizen
immigrant soldiers (Active and Reserve) currently serving across the
world, and the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have served
under the Stars and Stripes throughout our history.
The common bond that unites every soldier, sailor, airman, and
marine is a commitment to duty, honor, and country. Whether native
born, naturalized, or not U.S. citizens at all, servicemembers are
unified not by a common heritage, race, religion or creed, but rather
by this universal code that builds character, breeds conviction and
encourages valor. The code has a way of superceding nationalities. The
placement of foreign-born and native soldiers together within a
platoon, on a ship at sea, attached to an air squadron or a fire team,
ensures that the only true measures of a fighting man or woman is their
steadfast dedication to the mission and reverence for the chain of
command. Under fire, all other considerations are irrelevant.
The battlefield acts as the greatest equalizer amongst men. On the
fields of Gettysburg, in the Argonne forest, on the beaches of
Normandy, Iwo Jima, and Inchon, on the streets of Hue and along sandy
alleyways in Fallujah, heroes were born from men who came to the United
States not as mercenaries, but as migrants. Men from Ireland who fought
courageously alongside men from Indiana are buried together at
Arlington, and each are equally regarded as Americans in memoriam.
By learning from the example of their honorable service, our Nation
has graciously welcomed immigrants from every corner of this earth and
come to assign a high value to their aptitude for military service.
This is not a new phenomenon. Soldiers of the Continental Army, whether
native or immigrant, swore ``to be true to the United States of America
and to serve them honestly and faithfully.''
A Polish and French-trained artillery and engineering officer,
Thaddeus Kosciusko came to the United States to enlist in the fledgling
Continental Army. According to a wonderful legend, Kosciusko presented
himself before a tired General Washington, who was not quite sure what
to do with another foreign volunteer lacking English skills. ``I've
come to fight for American independence,'' Kosciusko told Washington,
so the legend goes. ``What can you do?'' Washington asked. The response
was simple and profound. ``Try me,'' responded the foreigner. Kosciusko
served with distinction throughout the Revolutionary War making
significant contributions to the successful American retreat from the
battle of Ticonderoga and victory at Saratoga in 1777.
He later became a naturalized American and was promoted to
Brigadier General by Congress. Thomas Jefferson would write of this
soldier, ``He was as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.''
It is this same ``Try me'' spirit seen again and again through the
years that has brought us other immigrant veterans, anxious for the
chance to prove themselves and contribute to their adopted nation. One
of the founding fathers of our Navy, Admiral David Farragut, was the
son of Jordi Farragut Mesquida, a Spanish--Catalan merchant captain
from Minorca, who had joined the American Revolutionary cause and was a
cavalry officer in the Tennessee militia. By the 1840s, almost half of
all U.S. military recruits were not U.S. citizens, but rather
immigrants enlisted right off the boat they came in on.
At the battle of the Alamo, 28 men, hailing from Ireland, Scotland,
Wales, England, Germany, and Denmark, lost their lives on a barren
Texas battlefield, thousands of miles from their European homelands.
They crossed a line in the sand that day and chose to fight and die for
their adopted land and independent rights. Today, their memory lives
on, and has come to represent the strength of character and fighting
spirit that defines our American identity.
During the Civil War, noncitizens constituted as much as 20 percent
of the 1.5 million-man Union Army. Three hundred sixty-nine immigrant
soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism in the Union
cause, including Captain William Joyce Sewell of Ireland, who would
later go on to become Senator Sewell of New Jersey, and was elected to
two terms in office by his peers.
Through their military service, immigrants gain valuable insight
into the purest forms of our democracy and learn an appreciation for
the truly American values that allow any man, regardless of social
class or family pedigree, to achieve whatever heights he sets for
himself. Immigrant servicemembers experience first hand that the same
standards applying to combat, those of tenacity, grit and toughness,
are transferable to the pursuit of prosperity and success in the
civilian world as well.
This concept of the American Dream is alive and well today within
the U.S. Armed Forces. Record numbers of lawful permanent residents
continue to enlist, spurred on by the promise of expedited citizenship,
a desire to earn their place in their new communities and the prospect
of a secure, stable, and well-compensated military career.
One hero who followed this distinctly American path was born in a
Balkan village called Prolog, now in western Bosnia. Peter Tomich was
20 years old when he came here in 1913, with nothing but opportunity in
He decided to join the Navy, and on December 7, 1941, Chief
Watertender Peter Tomich was below deck on the U.S.S. Utah, stationed
at Pearl Harbor. At the age of 48, he had 22 years of naval experience,
having served longer than many of the senior officers he served under.
The Navy was his life, and Chief Wartertender Tomich forged his own
American identity in the literal melting pot of the engine boiler rooms
aboard the steam-propelled dreadnoughts of the Pacific Fleet.
Just before 8 a.m. on that fateful December morning, two Japanese
torpedoes struck the Utah and the ship began to list heavily to port.
Below deck, in the engineering plant, water rushed towards the huge
boilers. Tomich, ever mindful of his crew, ran in to warn them of the
danger and relayed the order to evacuate. Knowing that the boilers
would explode if not properly secured, he ignored his own evacuation
order and set himself to the job that had to be done.
As the crewman began up the ladders and headed for daylight above,
they turned one last time to watch their Chief. He calmly moved from
valve to valve, setting the gauges, releasing steam pressure,
stabilizing and securing the huge boilers that otherwise would have
turned the entire ship into a massive inferno. His time for escape had
run out. But before the ship rolled over, he completed his mission and
prevented an explosion that would have killed hundreds of men trying to
swim to safety.
For his ``distinguished conduct and extraordinary courage'' Peter
Tomich was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Felix Sosa-Camejo followed a similar path. He came here, to Miami,
as a 20 year-old refugee from Castro's regime and enlisted in the Army
in 1963. Serving for 5 years, Captain Sosa-Camejo earned 12 citations,
including the Bronze Star, 3 Silver Stars, and 2 Purple Hearts. On
February 13, 1968, in the heat of the Tet Offensive on the streets of
Hue, his platoon was pinned down by enemy fire and unable to reach a
wounded comrade. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran
through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded man to safety.
This action would earn Captain Sosa-Camejo his second Bronze Star and
would cost him his life.
Fast forward to Iraq. November 15, 2004. A platoon scout assigned
to perimeter security, 25-year-old Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta of
Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division
volunteered to go door to door through the streets of Fallujah with an
assault team. Peralta could have stayed back, as this was not his
assignment, but it wasn't in this hero's nature to let his brothers
fight without him.
Peralta was born in Mexico, joined the Marines the day after he
became a lawful permanent resident and earned his citizenship while on
Active-Duty. He was serving his first tour in Iraq on that day in
November, when he led a stack of six marines through a suspected
terrorist hide out. In the ensuing fire-fight, Sergeant Peralta was
shot in the face and chest as he burst into a closed room and fell into
the line of fire. When four marines maneuvered into the room where he
lay wounded, one of the terrorists tossed a grenade landing close to
Peralta. In his final moments, he pulled the grenade close to him,
smothered its blast with his body, and saved the lives of his fellow
``Be proud of being an American . . . I'm going to do something I
always wanted to do,'' Peralta wrote to his brother Ricardo, 14, in a
letter that arrived home the day after he died. A true American hero,
Sergeant Rafael Peralta has been recommended for the Medal of Honor.
General Douglas MacArthur said, ``The soldier, above all other men,
is required to perform the highest act of religious teaching-
sacrifice.'' Peter Tomich and Rafael Peralta made the ultimate
sacrifice in the name of their adopted country, giving their lives to
save those of their fellow countrymen. Their heroic actions are
testimony to the profound patriotism of those immigrants who chose to
serve, and die, for our great Nation.
By fighting to defend the Constitution, immigrant servicemembers
gain an added respect for the enduring civic principles it guarantees:
those of freedom and opportunity for all men, equality before the law,
respect, and tolerance for difference, and the primacy of individual
citizens and their rights to govern the Nation.
Assimilation, or the patriotic integration of immigrants into the
civic fabric of our Nation, is one of the most complex challenges we
face as a nation and also represents one of our most essential
objectives. Citizenship is not a simple benefit. The Certificate of
Naturalization is not a hand out. American Citizenship is an invaluable
distinction and privilege that involves much more than stamped
paperwork and a printed certificate. Rather, Citizenship is an identity
that must be cultivated and nurtured by the individual. It is a life-
long journey that begins with the first step an immigrant takes on
American soil and ends with their last breath.
It is quickly understood that those immigrants who volunteer to
serve in our Armed Forces are more easily integrated into our Nation,
foster a greater attachment to our national and political institutions,
and are transformed into committed and loyal Americans who voluntarily
accept the obligations and responsibilities of citizenship.
Before turning to what we at USCIS are doing in the area of
military naturalization, it may be useful briefly to summarize our
current authorities. Congress recently clarified, in section 504 of
title 10, U.S. Code, the eligibility of noncitizens to enlist for
military service. In brief, lawful permanent resident aliens, certain
nationals of three Pacific nations in free association with the United
States (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of
Micronesia, and Palau), and any other person ``if the Secretary [of the
armed service] concerned . . . determines that such enlistment is vital
to the national interest'', are eligible to enlist in the Armed Forces.
Once in the military, there are a number of special provisions of
the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for servicemembers and
veterans that modify the eligibility requirements for naturalization as
a U.S. citizen that otherwise apply. The most relevant of these
currently is section 329 of the INA, which authorizes the
naturalization of any person who is honorably serving, or has honorably
served during any period of armed conflict designated by the President
without having previously to be a lawful permanent resident alien or to
satisfy any requirements relating to period of residence or physical
presence in the United States (in particular, the general requirement
otherwise in the INA that a person has to have been a lawful permanent
resident for 5 years before being eligible for naturalization). By
Executive Order on July 2, 2002, President Bush designated the period
beginning on September 11, 2001 and continuing until further notice as
such a period of armed conflict for the purposes of INA section 329. In
November 2003, Congress provided us with some additional useful
military naturalization authorities, in particular, the authority to
naturalize servicemembers outside the United States. Additionally, the
statute provided for the waiver of processing fees for military
Under the direction of the President, USCIS is taking steps to
ensure that the application process for immigrant servicemembers is
convenient, quick, and secure. In order to expedite processing, we
established a specialized unit at our Nebraska Service Center where all
up-front processing on military naturalization takes place. Specialists
within USCIS Field Offices and Headquarters have been selected to
handle military naturalization packets. Many consider this
responsibility a privilege and an honor, and do all that they can to
ensure that applications are processed and completed, in as many cases
as possible, before these brave men and women are deployed to combat
zones overseas. In all of our military naturalization efforts, we work
very closely with our Department of Defense (DOD) counterparts.
The most recent improvement to the military naturalization process
became effective May 1, 2006. In collaboration with the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) and the DOD, USCIS instituted a change in our
fingerprint process to better serve U.S. military personnel applying
for naturalization. Under this improved process, military members
applying for naturalization may sign a Privacy Act Statement and
Release Authorization Form, explicitly consenting to the use of the
fingerprints provided at time of enlistment for immigration benefits
purposes, rather than having to appear at one of our Application
Support Centers post-deployment to provide a new set of fingerprints.
Furthermore, if we are aware of an impending deployment, we expedite
FBI name checks for soldiers.
This new procedure applies to all noncitizen members of the U.S.
Armed Forces seeking naturalization and eliminates a significant
obstacle that previously delayed some military naturalization cases.
But sometimes, we can't process the applications quickly enough.
I do not possess the ability to comprehend the suffering of losing
a spouse, child or parent to war, nor the eloquence to accurately
describe the emotion I feel when signing a posthumous naturalization
certificate. When I put pen to paper, the reality hits me that they are
no longer with us because they have made the ultimate sacrifice for
this nation. The experience leaves me without words. As a veteran, a
husband, a parent, and the Director of USCIS, I am proud and extremely
honored to serve this agency in supporting our military men and women
and their families.
As such, I am committed to exhausting every effort to ensure that
all military naturalization applications are processed expeditiously so
that servicemembers receive this honor on behalf of a grateful Nation.
I recently traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, to swear in 39 members of III
Army Corps, and joined 150 sailors and marines on the U.S.S. George
Washington for their naturalization ceremony while stationed at
Norfolk. Many of these brave men and women had recently returned from
service in Iraq, and had reenlisted for a second tour.
When deployments don't allow for stateside naturalization, USCIS
conduct overseas ceremonies for men and women serving at U.S.
installations abroad. Under authority granted by the 2003 Amendment,
USCIS officials have volunteered to travel to Camp Anaconda in
Afghanistan and Camp Victory in Iraq, stood on the deck of the U.S.S.
Kitty Hawk during exercises in the Sea of Japan, along the
demilitarized zone in South Korea, and traveled from Iceland to Nairobi
to naturalize almost 2,400 service men and women who have earned the
right to share in the liberties and freedoms they help to preserve. In
fact, 176 soldiers from almost two dozens different countries took the
oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens at July 4 ceremonies in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
In total, USCIS has naturalized more than 26,000 service men and
women since September 11, 2001 in the U.S. and overseas.
USCIS also actively engages in conducting outreach to military
personnel interested and eligible in becoming citizens. USCIS Community
Liaison Officers regularly visit military installations to answer
questions and help with citizenship paperwork. At the national level,
USCIS is launching an extensive public outreach effort targeting
service men and women who may be eligible to naturalize. The efforts
include local outreach initiatives, the development and dissemination
of educational materials, a USCIS military brochure and media efforts
designed to reach this constituency both in the United States and
During my time in the Army, I served under three Chairmen of the
Joint Chief's of Staff with immigrant roots. General John
Shalikashvili, Chairman from 1993 to 1997, was an immigrant from
Poland, born of Georgian parents. General Colin Powell and our current
Chairman, General Peter Pace, are first-generation Americans
America gave these men, and their families, home and hope and they
reciprocated with distinguished service, exceptional leadership and
boundless patriotism. Their success proves that our Nation is a land of
unlimited opportunity, and their loyalty and valor prove that
immigrants deserve every opportunity to contribute to our national
It is the promise of equality and the hope for a better future that
has encouraged immigrants over the years to enlist in our Armed Forces.
The prospect of gaining citizenship has increased these ranks of brave
men and women. But it is the life-long commitment to Duty, Honor and
Country that has shaped the will of men to lay down life and limb, and
sacrifice for their adopted country and comrades in arms. These are
qualities that can only be gained through military service.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to testify about
this important subject. This concludes my prepared statement, and I
would be pleased to take any questions you may have at this time. Thank
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much, Director Gonzalez.
This is a memorable moment for all of us, but I think
particularly for you. Given this is not the capstone for your
career, many things are to come, but this is certainly a day
that you will remember, too.
Now, Mr. Rascon, we're awaiting your testimony.
STATEMENT OF ALFRED RASCON, FORMER DIRECTOR, SELECTIVE SERVICE
Mr. Rascon. Senator Warner, thank you very much for having
me here. Senator McCain, Senator Kennedy, Senator Graham,
Senator Martinez, it's a great honor to be here. I have a short
prepared speech here, and I'll get with it, and we'll get
finished with it.
Chairman Warner. There's no hurry. We owe a great deal to
you, and to so many like you who have shown that extraordinary
courage on the battlefield such that we can be here today
enjoying the freedoms that we enjoy every day.
Mr. Rascon. Thank you, sir. I am Alfred Rascon, one
immigrant of approximately 3,450-plus, or 20 percent of the
service men and women to have been presented the Medal of
Honor, the highest citation for valor.
At the time of the action leading to the Medal of Honor, I
was not yet a citizen, but a legal permanent resident. I fought
in Vietnam twice; I was in Operation Just Cause in Panama in
1989; in 2003, in Iraq and Afghanistan; and again in Iraq in
I left my subcabinet-level position with the Bush
administration to join my fellow soldiers recalled to active
duty, when I could have been exempt because of my position as
Director of the Selective Service.
My fellow soldiers in Vietnam simply knew me as Al or Doc.
These men that fought with me, and died beside me, never asked
anything of my legal status in the United States.
Oddly enough, when presented the Medal of Honor in 2000,
some 34 years after the action, the members of my paratrooper
reconnaissance platoon at the ceremony were startled to learn
that I was born in Mexico and was not yet a citizen of the
United States, or, in fact, that I was of Mexican descent.
When bullets were flying, little was asked of your
birthplace. Those receiving incoming bullets never asked
anything, or were they even involved with equal opportunity.
Equal opportunity was equal opportunity death.
We served in the American Revolution under many names like
Cargill, O'Malley, Richardson, Hinkle, Gustav, to that of
Gonzalez and Johnson.
We were the first Inspector General of the Continental
Army. We were present at the American Revolution. We were there
when it started, and we were there when it finished.
I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and raised in the United
States from an early age in childhood in Oxnard, a small town
in Southern California.
By the fact that I was seen as a ``wetback,'' or other not-
so-nice names, I made it a point to learn and know more about
this Nation's rich heritage than many of my citizen friends. I
simply loved my adopted country.
Ironically, my neighbors were of Japanese-American descent.
I learned to speak Japanese before I spoke English. I was a
little boy to them, who showed no adverse actions to how they
looked or what they ate. I was just their neighbor.
I was to learn later that the father of that family, along
with his mother and family, had been interned in a relocation
camp during World War II, but he was not bitter. He ended up
joining the military in World War II, and fought with the 442nd
Regimental Combat Team, the highest decorated military regiment
in the United States Army.
We many thousands of past and present proud immigrants to
this great country did not have the choice of choosing our
place of birth or choice of parents. We did have the choice to
be called immigrants by birth and Americans by choice. We were
always Americans in our hearts.
We immigrants who serve and are today in the Armed Forces
of the United States of America continue to honor and serve to
defend whatever is asked of us in keeping our country--our
country--free, or to go where we're asked for freedom.
We are all byproducts of immigrants, or descendents of
them, with the exception of our great American Indians. We are
a Nation of immigrants who will fight to the death to protect
this great Nation, and we will never be brought to our knees by
any nation or any terrorists, and we will fight for freedom.
Thank you very much.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much. Another moment in
history today, your testimony. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF MARGARET D. STOCK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF
CONSTITUTIONAL AND MILITARY LAW, UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY
Ms. Stock. Senator Warner and distinguished senators of the
committee, my name is Margaret Stock. I am honored to be here
today in my capacity as an expert in the fields of immigration,
constitutional, military, and national security law.
For the past 5 years, I have served on the faculty of the
Department of Law at the United States Military Academy at West
Point, New York. In my capacity as a lieutenant colonel in the
Military Police Corps in the United States Army Reserve, I'm
currently assigned as an associate professor in the Department
of Social Sciences at West Point.
The statements, opinions, and views I express today,
however, are my own, and do not reflect the views of the United
States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, the DOD,
or any other Government agency.
As I mentioned previously, I have served for the past 5
years on the faculty at West Point. During my service on the
West Point faculty, and through the legal assistance officers
of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC), I have advised
military members and civilian employees of the DOD with regard
to U.S. immigration and citizenship matters.
Prior to joining the West Point faculty, I was an attorney
in private practice, and, over the years, I assisted numerous
military members and their families with U.S. immigration
matters. Thus, I have more than 10 years of experience with the
issues and problems that military members and their families
face with regard to U.S. immigration and citizenship law.
I'm honored to be appearing before you today to discuss
immigrants and the U.S. military. This hearing could not be
more important or timely, because it comes as our Nation is
engaged in an important debate over how we should reform our
This debate comes as we are fighting a global war on
terrorism, with an enemy who speaks many languages, travels
internationally, and attempts to fight our forces here at home
and across the globe.
Immigrants play a vital role in this struggle, and the
outcome of the debate over reform of our immigration laws will
have a dramatic impact on our ability to prevail in the global
war on terrorism.
We need comprehensive immigration reform to win the war on
terrorism. An ``enforcement only'' approach, the approach that
we have essentially been pursuing unsuccessfully for the past
10 years, will continue to hurt our ability to recruit and
retain immigrants for the Armed Forces. ``Enforcement only''
will also continue to add significant stress to military
families, as many of our military families include family
members who are legally present in the United States, and
others who are not.
Currently, many military members fighting overseas find
that they must also fight their government at home, when that
government seeks to deport their parents, their spouses, their
children, and other family members. While recruiting for the
Armed Forces continues to be a challenge, military recruiters
daily turn away high-quality, American-educated young people
who would make excellent recruits, but who lack lawful
permanent resident status and have no means to attain it.
Comprehensive immigration reform, especially if it includes
the bipartisan Development, Relief, and Education for Alien
Minors (DREAM) Act, will enhance our ability to obtain high-
quality recruits for the United States Armed Forces.
Comprehensive reform will also reduce the cost to our
military families of hiring lawyers and dealing with the stress
of trying to stop the deportation of their family members.
It's important to note that the current state of
immigration law is poor, and only promises to get worse unless
Congress enacts comprehensive reform. The current immigration
system is an obstacle to enhancing our security because it is
dysfunctional and irrational.
The most apt description of the state of our immigration
laws comes from former INS spokesperson, Karen Kraushaar, who
said, as reported in the Washington Post, that U.S. immigration
law is a mystery and a mastery of obfuscation.
As military members encounter these laws and this system,
they often experience the same difficulties and frustrations
that civilians experience. They must deal with the complex
system that requires years of study to understand and a system
that makes it nearly impossible for many people to immigrate
legally to the United States, unless, perhaps, they have the
funds to hire one of the rare attorneys who knows how to
navigate the system successfully.
In the military, military members often turn to the JAGC
for advice and assistance with their immigration matters, but
few JAG attorneys have the expertise needed to help them with
anything more than the most simple immigration matters. Often,
then, they must turn to private sector immigration attorneys;
but, in many places where military members are deployed,
lawyers with the necessary expertise are not to be found, or
may be too expensive for military members to afford.
Congress has done much in recent years to try to help
noncitizen military members become citizens more quickly. I
applaud this effort which has been highly beneficial to the
U.S. Armed Forces in allowing them to obtain and retain
qualified enlisted personnel and officers. Yet, changing the
law regarding citizenship or naturalization of military members
is not enough, and not always enough. In navigating the very
complex bureaucratic immigration system, even having the law on
your side doesn't always guarantee success.
By way of example, I want to offer today the case of
Private Abbas Malik, a U.S. Army soldier currently serving in
Baghdad. He does roadside checkpoints in the infantry.
Private Malik was born in Pakistan, speaks fluent English
and Urdu, and immigrated to the United States when he was a
child. He joined Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in high
school, and, after high school, attempted to join the Army. He
was turned away by recruiters at first, because he was on the
waiting list for a green card, but he did not have it yet.
When he finally obtained his green card, he immediately
enlisted in the infantry in 2003. As soon as he reported for
basic training, he applied for his U.S. citizenship, as the law
allows him to do, and, yet, more than 2 years later, he still
does not have his U.S. citizenship; not because he's not
qualified for it, or because the law stands in his way, but
because he's not been able to navigate the system successfully.
At every step of the way, he has encountered a chain of
command and legal assistance officers who are not familiar with
the procedures to speed him towards citizenship.
I want to note that USCIS has attempted to help him, but
he's had some problems getting fingerprints overseas, and so
his case has languished.
Today, although Private Malik would like to volunteer for
elite units serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere, where his
Urdu language ability would be useful. He cannot, because he
lacks U.S. citizenship.
I mention this case as just one example, but my experience
has been that military members face similar obstacles in many
parts of the immigration process, and not only in their
attempts to obtain citizenship.
They face consular officers who deny their family members
visas, because the consular officers say that the DOD pay scale
is too low, and the military members will not be able to
support their families on their military pay.
They face Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials
who deny their spouses benefits because the military members
have been deployed and are unable to attend interviews, or
because the military members have moved and DHS has not yet
updated their address in the system. Often, their only recourse
is to seek congressional assistance.
Problems like these can be resolved with appropriate
training of immigration officials, more resources, and perhaps
some reorganization of the process; but some problems can't be
solved without comprehensive legal immigration reform.
A very serious problem today is the fact that many military
family members cannot become legal under the current
immigration system. Some have entered the U.S. illegally and
cannot adjust their status; some have overstayed a visa; most
cannot leave the United States for fear of triggering a 3-year,
10-year, or permanent bar from the United States; and even
their U.S. citizen spouses, who are lawful permanent spouses,
cannot help them to overcome those barriers.
A guest worker program alone will not help many of these
military family members. ``Enforcement only'' means that these
military family members face exile in a foreign country, and
the U.S. military may eventually lose the U.S. military member,
who may not want to continue to serve in the United States
Military when his or her family has been banished to Mexico,
the Philippines, or some other faraway place. Without legal
reform, these problems cannot be resolved.
Finally, this committee should be aware that the Pentagon
has learned from a recent study by the Center for Naval
Analyses that noncitizens, on average, offer many benefits to
the U.S. Military.
The report notes that noncitizens are more diverse than
citizen recruits, not just racially and ethnically, but also
linguistically and culturally. This diversity is particularly
valuable as the United States faces the challenges of the
global war on terrorism.
Second, noncitizens do extremely well in the military. In
fact, black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic noncitizens
have 3-month attrition rates that are 7 to 8 percentage points
below those for white citizens. Furthermore, noncitizens have
36-month attrition rates that are 9 to 20 percentage points
lower than the attrition rates of white citizens.
There are additional figures and numbers in that report
that are very useful for painting a picture of the value that
noncitizens give to the United States military today.
When the Pentagon recruits a noncitizen for the military,
the bottom line is, it tends to get a better bang for its
recruiting buck. Because current law theoretically allows
noncitizens to get virtually instant citizenship by joining the
U.S. military, assuming they meet all the other requirements,
and serve honorably, there are no legal barriers to encouraging
noncitizens to join.
Comprehensive immigration reform--and, in particular, the
bipartisan DREAM Act--will help provide more of these high-
quality recruits at a time when our Nation needs them more than
That concludes my prepared remarks, and I'm ready to take
[The prepared statement and additional inserts of Ms. Stock
Prepared Statement by Margaret D. Stock
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, my name is
Margaret Stock. I am honored to be here in my capacity as an expert in
the fields of immigration, constitutional, military, and national
security law. For the past 5 years, I have been a professor in the
Department of Law at the United States Military Academy at West Point,
New York. In my capacity as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Military Police
Corps, U.S. Army Reserve, I am currently assigned as an Associate
Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the Military Academy.
The statements, opinions, and views I express today are my own,
however, and do not represent the views of the United States Military
Academy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense (DOD)
any other Government agency.
As I mentioned previously, I have served for the past 5 years on
the faculty at West Point. During my service on the West Point faculty,
and through the Legal Assistance officers of the Judge Advocate
General's (JAGs) Corps, I have advised military members (and civilian
employees) of the DOD with regard to U.S. immigration and citizenship
matters. Prior to joining the West Point faculty, I was an attorney in
private practice, and over the years I assisted numerous military
members and their families with U.S. immigration matters. Thus, I have
more than 10 years experience with the issues and problems that
military members and their families face with regard to immigration and
I am honored to be appearing before you today to discuss immigrants
and the U.S. military. This hearing could not be more important or
timely because it comes as our Nation is engaged in an important debate
about how we should reform our immigration laws. This debate comes as
we are fighting a global war on terrorism, with an enemy who speaks
many languages, travels internationally, and fights our forces here at
home and across the globe. Immigrants playa vital role in this
struggle, and the outcome of the debate over reform of our immigration
laws will have a dramatic impact on our ability to prevail in the
global war on terrorism.
We need comprehensive immigration reform to win the global war on
terrorism. An ``enforcement only'' approach--the same approach that we
have essentially been pursuing for the past 10 years--will continue to
hurt our ability to recruit and retain immigrants for the Armed Forces.
``Enforcement only'' will also continue to add significant stress to
military families, as many of our military families include family
members who are legally present in the United States, and others who
are not. Currently, many military members fighting overseas find that
they must also fight their own government at home, as that government
seeks to deport their parents, spouses, and children residing in the
United States. While recruiting for the Armed Forces continues to be a
challenge, military recruiters daily turn away high-quality young
people who would make excellent recruits but who lack lawful permanent
resident status and have no means to attain it. Comprehensive
immigration reform--especially if it includes the bipartisan
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act--will
enhance our ability to obtain high-quality recruits for the United
States Armed Forces. Comprehensive reform will also reduce the cost to
our military families of hiring lawyers and dealing with the stress of
trying to stop the deportation of their family members.
It is important to note that the current state of immigration law
is poor, and only promises to get worse--unless Congress enacts
comprehensive reform. The current immigration system is an obstacle to
enhancing our security because it is dysfunctional and irrational. The
most apt description of the state of our immigration laws comes from
former Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesperson Karen
Kraushaar, who said that U.S. ``immigration law is a mystery and a
mastery of obfuscation.'' As military members encounter these laws and
this system, they often experience the same difficulties and
frustrations that civilians experience. They must deal with a complex
system that requires years of study to understand-a system that makes
it nearly impossible for many people to immigrate to the United States
legally unless they have the funds to hire one of the rare attorneys
who knows how to navigate the system successfully. In the military,
they often turn to the JAG Corps for advice and assistance with their
immigration matters--but few JAG attorneys have the expertise to help
them with anything more than the most simple immigration matters.
Often, then, they must turn to private sector immigration attorneys--
but in many places where our military members are deployed, lawyers
with the necessary expertise are not to be found, or may be too
expensive for military members to afford.
Congress has done much in recent years to try to help non-citizen
military members become citizens more quickly. I applaud this effort,
which has been highly beneficial to the U.S. Armed Forces in obtaining
and retaining qualified enlisted personnel and officers. Yet changing
the law is not always enough; in navigating the very complex
bureaucratic immigration system, even having the law on your side does
not always guarantee success. By way of example, I offer the case of
Private Abbas Malik, a U.S. Army soldier currently serving in Baghdad.
Private Malik was born in Pakistan, speaks fluent English and Urdu, and
immigrated to the United States when he was achild. He joined Junior
Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in high school, and after high
school, attempted to join the Army. He was turned away by recruiters at
first because he was on the waiting list for a green card, but did not
have it yet. When he finally obtained his green card, he immediately
enlisted in the infantry--in 2003. As soon as he reported for basic
training, he applied for his U.S. citizenship, as the law allows him to
do. Yet more than 2 years later, he still does not have his U.S.
citizenship--not because he is not qualified for it, or because the law
stands in his way, but because he has not been able to navigate the
system successfully. At every step of the way, he has encountered a
chain-of-command and legal assistance officers who are not familiar
with the procedures to speed him towards citizenship. Today, although
Private Malik would like to volunteer for elite units serving in
Afghanistan and elsewhere, where his Urdu language ability would be
useful, he cannot because he lacks U.S. citizenship.
I mention this case as just one example--but my experience has been
that military members face similar obstacles in many parts of the
immigration process, and not only in their attempts to obtain
citizenship. They face consular officers who deny their family members
visas because the consular officers say that the DOD payscales are too
low to allow the military members to support their families; they face
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials who deny their spouses
benefits because the military members have been deployed and are unable
to attend interviews, or because the military members have moved and
DHS has not updated their address in the system. Often their only
recourse is to seek congressional assistance.
Problems like these can be resolved with appropriate training of
immigration officials, more resources, and perhaps some reorganization
of the process. But some problems cannot be solved without
comprehensive legal reform. A very serious problem today is the fact
that many military family members cannot become legal under the current
immigration system. Some have entered the United States illegally and
cannot adjust their status; some have overstayed a visa; most cannot
leave the United States for fear of triggering a 3-year, 10-year, or
permanent bar to their return. A guestworker program alone will not
help many of these military family members. ``Enforcement only'' means
that these military family members face exile in a foreign country--and
the U.S. military may eventually lose the U.S. military member, who may
not want to continue to serve in the United States military when his or
her family has been banished to Mexico, the Philippines, or some other
far away place. Without legal reform, these problems cannot be
Finally, this committee should be aware that the Pentagon has also
learned--from a recent study by the Center for Naval Analyses--that
noncitizens, on average, offer many benefits to the U.S. military. The
report notes that noncitizens are ``more diverse than citizen
recruits--not just racially and ethnically, but also linguistically and
culturally. This diversity is particularly valuable as the United
States faces the challenges of the global war on terrorism. Second, . .
. noncitizens do extremely well in the military. In fact, black, Asian
and Pacific Islander (API), and Hispanic non-citizens have 3-month
attrition rates that are 7 to 8 percentage points below those for white
citizens. Furthermore, non-citizens have 36-month attrition rates that
are 9 to 20 percentage points lower than the attrition rates of white
citizens.'' (Non-Citizens in Today's Military: Final Report, April
2005, at 1)
So, when the Pentagon recruits a noncitizen for the military, it
tends to get a better bang for its recruiting buck. Because current law
theoretically allows noncitizens to get virtually instant citizenship
by joining the U.S. military and serving honorably, there are no legal
barriers to encouraging noncitizens to join.
Comprehensive immigration reform--and in particular, the bipartisan
DREAM Act--will help provide more of these high-quality recruits at a
time when our Nation needs them more than ever.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much. Given that our host
for today is Senator Martinez, the panel now defers to you to
initiate the questions. Senator.
Senator Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, you're so kind.
I appreciate that very much.
Let me begin by asking if I might submit for the record a
letter from a group of Honduran and Nicaraguan community-based
groups that work with many immigrants? They have extended a
very warm welcome to the committee.
Chairman Warner. Without objection, it will be included as
part of the record.
Senator Martinez. Thank you, sir.
[The information referred to follows:]
Senator Martinez. Director Gonzalez, I wanted to, first of
all, thank you for your testimony. It was very moving and
touching. Mr. Rascon, it was great to hear from you as well.
I must say that I find this whole hearing very exhilarating
and emotional at times.
I know, Director Gonzalez, that over the last many weeks
your job has been difficult and challenging, and I know that
you, as I, have been the subject of a lot of phone calls, and
sometimes faxes that put in question your patriotism, your
citizenship, your birthplace, and everything else.
I'm delighted to have a chance for you to be here today,
for us to honor your service to our country over the many years
in the military, and now more recently in a civilian role.
I wanted to ask, first of all, if you can tell us what
improvements to the naturalization process for military
personnel you have made during your time as director of the
Mr. Gonzalez. Thank you, Senator. The most significant one,
at least since I've been there since January, has been to
accept fingerprints submitted at the time of enlistment for our
In the past, military personnel were required to produce
another set of fingerprints as part of the application package.
We have done away with that, and we now accept, with the
soldier authorizing a release, his original enlistment
fingerprints, which allows us to speed up the process even
Furthermore, we're in the process now of starting a 1-800
telephone line dedicated only to military personnel. Right now
we do have 1-800 numbers available, and the individuals who
answer those are trained to answer questions, but we want to go
a step further and have an 1-800 number dedicated only to
military personnel, where they can get them an immediate
response, either for information, or to any pending issue on
Senator Martinez. The other issue that you touched on
earlier was the posthumous naturalizations that have also been
taking place. I think General Pace said some 75 of these have
happened in his testimony.
I was wondering what happens to the surviving spouses. Do
they have any opportunity, once their loved ones are now gone,
in service to our Nation? What happens to the surviving spouse,
and what does USCIS do for them?
Mr. Gonzalez. Thank you, sir. I will tell you that the
hardest part of my job is signing posthumous citizenship
certificates. It's not something that I do easily. In fact,
given the opportunity, I also call the parents or the next of
kin of the servicemembers who are killed in action.
As an anecdote--and I'm going to answer your question here,
but you opened the door for me--I spoke to the father of a
young man who was killed in Iraq. This gentleman, I believe,
was from Guatemala, just a salt-of-the-earth individual.
What do you say to a man who's lost his son, a young
marine? I said, sir, what are your plans?
He said, I was thinking about going back home, but that's
all changed now, because home is not where you live, home is
where you bury your children.
That's really tough. What can you say to that man?
He has my phone number, and he wants to be a citizen. I
told him I would do everything I can to help him.
With regard to surviving spouses, they do have
opportunities. Spouses and parents qualify under the law. I
believe it's a 2-year time period.
I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to naturalize
the wife of an Army warrant officer who was killed in Iraq in
January. I did this at Fort Hood. She's the first such
individual that I naturalized.
It was an incredibly moving ceremony, because after we
naturalized her, she led 39 other members of the Army's Third
Corps in the pledge of allegiance. I have to tell you, there
wasn't a dry eye in that room.
We do have provisions, and we do fast-track, and we do
everything we can to facilitate the naturalization process for
the servicemembers' surviving spouses and children, if we can.
Senator Martinez. Professor Stock, I was also intrigued by
your mention of the DREAM Act on several occasions. I guess
you're suggesting that by having better educated people, that
those who choose then to enter the service will be in a better
posture to serve our Nation and the military.
Is that the connection between the DREAM Act and the
military that you're drawing?
Ms. Stock. Senator, the DREAM Act provides the option of
serving in the military to get your green card. You would get
conditional, lawful, permanent resident status. Then you would
join the military, serve for a certain period of time, and the
conditions would be lifted on that green card.
The DREAM Act doesn't require that you serve in the
military, of course. We have an All-Volunteer Force, and we
don't want to force people to join the military to get their
It offers other alternatives, such as attending college, if
you can't qualify for the military, or you don't want to join
the military, but I believe that the large numbers of young
people in the country who have been educated at taxpayer
expense are an enormous resource that our country should take
advantage of. Rather than deporting them back to their country
of origin just as they reach the point when they're ready to
contribute to our community, and just at the point when they
want to contribute to our community, it's key to offer them the
option of serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Many of these folks are very bright. The DREAM Act requires
that they be of good moral character, have no criminal record,
and, of course, meet all the other military requirements for
They're going to have to be stellar candidates to get in,
and the only thing DREAM Act does is it offers them the option
of serving in their country's Armed Forces in order to obtain
that final permanent resident status.
Senator Martinez. Part of your work, I know, is working
with immigrant families, providing legal advice, and so forth.
I also heard in your remarks the fact, if I understood it
correctly, that the members of our military are spending a good
bit of their time and attention and money to legalize or
regularize or attempt to keep their parents from being
deported. Is that what I heard you say?
Ms. Stock. Yes, Senator. It's not just their parents. It's
their wives, husbands, and sometimes children. I get calls and
e-mails from attorneys and military members who are stressed
out because they're over there in Baghdad, trying to fight for
their country, and they're getting calls or e-mails from home
saying, help, they're cracking down on immigrants here in the
United States, and I'm worried about getting deported.
In fact, there was a soldier from Florida who was quoted in
a Florida newspaper, saying that he was very concerned that
while he was deployed overseas, immigration was going to come
and pick up his wife, who was an undocumented illegal
His wife is not able to get status because of the crackdown
that's occurred since 1996, the ``enforcement only'' provisions
that Congress has been enacting over and over again.
In 1996, you probably recall they passed the Illegal
Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act. As part of that,
they made a whole pile of people ineligible to get green cards,
even though they're married to citizens and lawful permanent
residents. The soldier's wife was one of those people who just
has no ability to become legal under current law.
She also won't benefit from a guest worker program, unless
you think that being the wife of a military member is a job
that most Americans don't want. She's going to be stuck unless
we get comprehensive immigration reform.
Senator Martinez. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator.
I have advised my colleagues that we will have a media
availability in an adjoining room here that will start in about
10 or 12 minutes. Several of our colleagues have to make
At this time, we'll turn to Senator Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy. Just briefly, I want to thank Mr. Gonzalez
for all of his help to our committee on immigration, and the
Judiciary Committee. He's been an enormous source of
information and guidance, and has had a very distinguished
Let me just, very quickly--because I know others want to,
and I'll just take a few moments--there are, at the present
time, a number of pending cases before you--as I understand,
close to 35,000 servicemembers--but reference has been made
about what happened on the Fourth of July by members of the
panel. This was 76 U.S. troops on duty in Iraq taking the oath
It was referred to earlier in the hearing.
Those are the lucky ones that are actually taking the oath
of office. There's a lot pending now, as I understand.
Can you tell us how we can be helpful to make sure, or
maybe you want to provide some additional material to us--
because it seems to me if we're going to talk about these
gallant men and women that are serving on the firing line, who
want to become citizens, we don't, on the other hand, just want
to say it's a promise, and then not follow through on it.
How can we help you get the job done?
Mr. Gonzalez. Thank you very much. I also thank you for
your leadership and the reforms that we made that ease the
experience for naturalized Americans.
I think ``pending'' may be a misnomer. ``Pending'' is not
necessarily any kind of a backlog or a wait, it's just as these
naturalization requests come in, they come to our Nebraska
service center, and we turn them around as quickly as possible.
``Pending'' could very well be an availability to reach out to
a soldier because the soldier's overseas. We then have to send
somebody out to naturalize that person, and we can't do that
any other way. We can't delegate that authority. It may very
well be it's a misnomer that the individual----
Senator Kennedy. Maybe you could give us some detail,
because we waive, for example, the fees.
Mr. Gonzalez. Correct.
Senator Kennedy. As I understand, you use those fees for
Mr. Gonzalez. Correct.
Senator Kennedy. It would be interesting to find out from
you, if you need more resources to be able to get the job done
more quickly? Maybe you could just give us the facts, since we
did suspend the waiving of it.
Let me just move on.
I want to thank Mr. Rascon. I was there with Spencer
Abraham 2 or 3 years ago when you appeared before our Judiciary
Committee, and you had that magnificent line which you
You said, ``That time provided me with an opportunity to
serve my adopted country. Above all, it gave me the opportunity
to give something of myself to this great Nation. I was once
asked by a reporter why as a noncitizen of the United States I
volunteered to join the military and serve in Vietnam, not
once, but twice. I answered, I was always an American in my
That's pretty powerful.
The passage from the transcript is only a couple of pages,
Mr. Chairman. Could we put this testimony that he had at that
time in today's record?
Chairman Warner. Yes, put that in.
[The information referred to follows:]
Senator Kennedy. Finally, I'll ask Professor Stock, most
people don't know much about the DREAM Act. You comment you
have to be here for 5 years, at least; you have to have been
able to graduate from high school.
Many of these young people don't even know that they're
illegal, some of them, as I understand it, but the military is
offering, if they want to go in and sign up and do a job for
the United States of America, they're conditionally let in.
They serve the 2 years.
Their officers are able to make an evaluation, and then
they have to continue to serve us in there, but they have the
assurance that they're going to be able to get a green card.
It's an opportunity for people that want to serve to be able to
serve at a time that we're under some pressure.
Am I correct?
Ms. Stock. You're absolutely correct, Senator.
Senator Kennedy. Do I understand from your own experience
that there's a real desire to be able to do that?
Ms. Stock. There is a tremendous desire, Senator. If the
DREAM Act were passed today, you would have far more recruits
than you need for the United States Armed Forces. There are so
many young people.
That's because the folks who are going to benefit from the
DREAM Act are not people who ran across the border yesterday,
they're people who grew up in America. For the most part, they
have been here since they were very young. There's a 5-year
The 5 years has to have occurred when they were under the
age of 18, when they were young people.
They are the more long-term residents, they were here when
they were 2 or 3 years old.
In fact, most of these folks who are going to benefit from
the DREAM Act, when they walk into a military recruiter's
office, a recruiter can't tell that they're not American
citizens; they look, talk, act exactly like somebody born in
the United States.
The only thing that's preventing them from being accessed
by the military, enlisting in the military, is the fact that
they do not have documentation showing that they're long-term
Senator Kennedy. If I could just ask a final question. Have
you talked this over with the DOD? Can you give us quick
action, or should we be the ones trying to answer that?
Ms. Stock. I think if the DREAM Act were passed, that's
probably what would help the most. I know that there is no
resistance in the Pentagon to the idea of the DREAM Act.
Chairman Warner. Thank you.
Senator McCain. I'll be brief, Mr. Chairman.
I want to note the presence of the
``legalizetheirish.com,'' who are here today. Members of that
wonderful organization have joined me around the country at
various places, and I must compliment them on their behavior
today. It's far less unruly than I have noticed in the past,
and I thank you very much.
Director Gonzalez, do you support the President's proposal
of comprehensive immigration reform?
Mr. Gonzalez. Absolutely, sir.
Senator McCain. Suppose that we pass enforcement only, and
we have a permanent class of immigrants who would never be able
to become citizens. What effect does that have on our society,
Mr. Gonzalez. Sir, just from the DHS, which is what my
agency is a part of, we have a universe of people now that we
have no idea who they are, we have no idea where they work,
where they live, we have no idea what their background is.
The President's policy for comprehensive reform makes
sense, because it's the right path. It's the middle road; it's
not the extreme policy.
I look at the extremes as those that want amnesty on one
side, and those who want to kick everybody out on the other. We
have to come up with a middle ground that addresses not just
border security, but internal enforcement, and we have to find
a way to deal----
Senator McCain. Earn citizenship.
Mr. Gonzalez. --sir, with the numbers of individuals who
are undocumented within our borders today.
Senator McCain. Professor Stock, you came a long way to
this hearing, and we thank you very much for this and your long
involvement in this issue.
Maybe you don't have an answer to this question. How do you
account, with your long involvement in this issue, for the very
emotional opposition to comprehensive reform, or a path to
citizenship? What's your view?
It puzzles many of us as to how really combative this issue
seems to be when we believe it deserves mature dialogue and
Ms. Stock. Senator McCain, I think the big problem is that
immigration law is so complicated that people don't understand
it. I found that when you sit down and talk to audiences who
are emotional about it, if you can explain to them, for
example, that today there's virtually no way to become legal,
they start to understand the issue, and they become less
There's a myth out there that all you have to do to
immigrate to America is go stand in some line somewhere. That's
not the case today. There is no line to stand in.
What I hear from people who get very emotional and are
anti-immigrant, in a way, is that they think people should be
forced to go stand in a line, and that sort of thing, because
they think there is such a line. But there is no line, because
we don't have a way for these people to legally immigrate.
Comprehensive immigration reform is going to set up an
avenue for earned adjustment. It will create a line for people
to stand in to earn the privilege of becoming lawful, permanent
residents, and then citizens.
It won't let them jump to the front of the line. They'll
have to get in the back of the line, but at least there will be
I think when you explain that to people, and you explain
the fact that there's going to be penalty fees, and that the
government will actually benefit greatly from enacting this
reform, people start to understand. The answer is public
Senator McCain. It's funny. When I have town hall meetings,
I find the same thing, that once you explain what the situation
is, and how unacceptable the status quo is, people seem to be
much more reasonable about it. Obviously, all of us have been
strongly encouraging a dialogue amongst all of our citizens so
that we can reach a conclusion.
I thank the witnesses. Mr. Rascon, finally, rereading your
citation again, I find it hard to comprehend, and thank you
for, your service and your courage.
Chairman Warner. Thank you, Senator McCain.
Senator Graham. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Professor Stock, is there any way to put a number on how
many military members, whether you be a legal resident or
actual citizen, have family members who are undocumented?
Ms. Stock. I don't think so, Senator Graham, because
immigration law, again, is so complicated, only the individual
knows. They're afraid right now, and they're afraid because the
House says they're all going to become felons here shortly, and
the military members themselves might become felons for helping
Senator Graham. Let's walk through that. Would you hazard a
guess and say it's thousands?
Ms. Stock. I would say it's thousands, Senator Graham.
Senator Graham. So, we have thousands of people who are
related to military members, whether they're citizens or
noncitizens, that are basically in a legal no-man's land. Is
Ms. Stock. That's correct. It's not just military members,
either, it's Federal employees. We have lots and lots of
Federal employees who have illegal spouses, parents, children.
Senator Graham. Mr. Gonzalez, what would be the effect on
this problem if one of the solutions Congress pursued was to
make every person who crossed the border, or overstayed a visa,
Mr. Gonzalez. Sir, the agency that I'm privileged to head
is not a law enforcement agency. We're a benefits agency.
I think I'm out of my lane in trying to answer that
question for you.
Senator Graham. What would common sense tell you?
Mr. Gonzalez. Common sense would tell me that we would have
some very busy Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents out
Senator Graham. Professor Stock, what would the legal
Ms. Stock. Senator Graham, I believe, from your background,
when you make something a felony, you have to start providing
lawyers to all the people.
Senator Graham. So, if you want more lawyers, vote----
Ms. Stock. If you want more lawyers----
You're going to need more prosecutors, more defense
attorneys, more judges. In fact, immigration is going to take
over the whole legal system.
Senator Graham. So, is the House legislation the ``Lawyer
Ms. Stock. It's not just that, it's the ``Immigration
Lawyer Full Employment Act.''
Senator Graham. The reason that we kind of laugh about this
a bit is that the policies that we're pursuing really do matter
to people. I'm trying to come up with, along with my
colleagues, proposals that punish people who violate our laws,
but will have a just result.
To me, a just result would be to allow people to be
punished for what is a misdemeanor offense, get right with the
law, pay taxes, learn English, go through many hurdles before
you can get that green card, but justice would demand, I think,
Professor Stock, that the punishment be proportionate to the
Do you believe a felony offense for illegal immigration
violation is proportionate to the crime?
Ms. Stock. No, Senator, I don't. I also think it hurts our
national security to focus all those resources on pursuing that
type of offense. In law enforcement, we know that good law
enforcement means setting priorities. It's the same with
national security. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We
need the Senate bill.
Senator Graham. Last question. To our Medal of Honor
winner, how does this debate that's been going on in the
country strike you?
Mr. Rascon. It is very odd that you mention that. I was an
immigration officer at one time, a senior special agent. The
impact of the border is really not the issue. It ends up being
people with concepts, people with misconceptions, and literally
people who are ignorant of what's going on.
As everybody else has mentioned here, you end up having to
deal with the law. The law specifies an issue to an end. The
immigration law ends up being--as was mentioned by Professor
Stock, you better know what you're getting into before you get
out of it, because it ends up being literally a bag of worms.
We ended up with issues back in 1986, with the Salvadorans,
and it's a no-winner. The situation is we, as immigrants, are
here for one purpose, to give back to this country for what
this country has given us.
Yes, we have people that are bad. That's the way life is.
Someplace along the line, someplace within Congress, within the
Senate, somebody has to get away from means and end up dealing
with the issue of what is the end product.
Are you going to come back and put somebody in jail? Are
they really felons? Are they terrorists? No.
They end up being people who want to come to this country
because it's the opportunity that no other country gives you,
the choice to seek freedom. What other country will give you
I don't see anybody lining up to go back to Afghanistan, or
to go back to Iraq. We are a country of immigrants, no matter
how they like it or not. We have to make something with it, and
we have to deal with common sense and get away from our
predilections. That's all there is to it.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much. We're greatly
indebted to each of you who have taken the time to join us
Professor Stock, you traveled all the way from Alaska, and
you get back on a plane and go right back tonight. That's the
sort of contribution that's important.
My one question to you is--and you can answer it for the
record, if you so desire, later--but your collective
contributions this morning have put my mind to work to make
certain that all of these good ideas are before those members
of the House and the Senate that are working, hopefully, at
this very moment, to construct a piece of legislation.
Is there anything missing from, say, the House debate or
the Senate debate, that was overlooked, so that it's not a part
of the record today, that you feel is essential to be included
in whatever legislation Congress eventually enacts?
Ms. Stock. Thank you, Senator, for that opportunity. I
would like to say that the one thing I think is missing has
been brought out today at this hearing, which is the
contribution that immigrants make to the military.
I don't think that anyone has taken that into account to
date until this committee hearing was held, and so I thank you
very much for holding this hearing today. I know that the
information provided at this hearing will now go before the
House and the Senate as they go to conference on the
comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much for that.
Mr. Rascon, your views? Anything that you think is missing?
This hearing itself, the record, of course, will be
available to those who--the conferees, as we refer to them,
working on this legislation. Is there anything specifically you
would like to add?
Mr. Rascon. No, Senator Warner, not really. I think, like I
mentioned before, it's just an issue of common sense.
Chairman Warner. All right. I like that, common sense. Good
Director Gonzalez, you have a means by which to work
through the administration, and, indeed, through the President,
who has shown enormous strength and wisdom and conviction to
get this done. I presume that you don't feel there's any
deficiency thus far in the record.
Mr. Gonzalez. No, sir. I think this is a much deserved
hearing, because it's a very important aspect of the
immigration debate that has gone unnoticed.
It's not abstract. Immigrants are people. When you start to
think that the person next door to you may be an immigrant, and
you don't know it--your doctor, your college professor, your
banker--it brings the whole subject into a whole new light.
I'm lucky to be in an agency where most of the people, the
professionals and the career individuals that are still with me
today, have in the past been through lifetimes where we looked
at ways of regularization, and we look forward to working with
you on any information or any technical advice we can give you
as we move forward. I appreciate the opportunity, sir.
Chairman Warner. Thank you. I believe that we saw this
morning, in the testimony of General Pace, a message that will
resonate throughout our Nation about the importance of this
legislation and how it should be put together.
As you said, Mr. Rascon, good, old-fashioned common sense
and fairness and decency to those human beings put on this
Earth by God Almighty, and we should treat them that way.
I thank the President of this distinguished Miami-Dade
College, Mr. Montoya, and Chief Timoney, thank you very much.
Thanks to the audience. As Senator McCain opined and
observed, you've been very courteous and very much a part of
this hearing. I think when you look back that you'll find that
this was a memorable day in your life, as it is to, I think,
tens of thousands of other Americans who can see this by virtue
of the television that was taken today.
Senator Kennedy. Mr. Chairman, could I just mention some
members of the Service Employees International Union, who I
understand were here, and some of them have relatives who are
serving over in Iraq at this time. They have joined the
audience, as well.
Chairman Warner. Thank you very much. Senator McCain has
asked for me to submit for the record a letter I received from
John M. Shalikashvili, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff and I will do so at this point.
[The information referred to follows:]
Chairman Warner. If there's nothing further from my
colleagues, we will now adjourn quickly to a press conference.
Thank you. We are adjourned.
[Questions for the record with answers supplied follow:]
Questions Submitted by Senator John McCain
IMMIGRANTS IN THE U.S. ARMED FORCES
1. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, what is the estimated number of
immigrants presently serving in the United States Armed Forces?
Secretary Chu. As of May 31, 2006, there were 23,645 noncitizen
legal residents serving in the Active Forces, and 9,723 in the Reserves
and National Guard.
2. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, is this number growing and if so,
Secretary Chu. The total number of non-United States citizens
serving in the United States Armed Forces has declined over the past
few years--from about 49,000 in 2003 to 33,368 in May 2006. Our
recruiting of noncitizen legal residents continues to be strong--
averaging almost 9,000 per year from 2001 to 2005. We believe that more
of our noncitizen servicemembers are becoming naturalized United States
Two major changes in the naturalization processing of noncitizens
serving in the Armed Forces have contributed to the increased
The application fees have been waived, citizenship ceremonies
are being conducted overseas, and this has resulted in doubling
the average number of naturalization processing from 324 per
month (from September 11, 2001 to September 30, 2004) to 649
per month (from October 1, 2004 to the present); and
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has
reduced the average time it takes to process military member
citizenship applications from 9 months to less than 60 days.
3. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, what is the draw for immigrants
to serve in our military?
Secretary Chu. Noncitizens join our Armed Forces for similar
reasons as citizens: service to the United States (in their case, their
adopted country), training, education, adventure, travel, experience,
etc. There is the additional draw of an accelerated path to citizenship
by virtue of military service.
4. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, how do noncitizens perform in
the military as compared to citizens?
Ms. Stock. \1\ According to a recent study by the Center for Naval
Analyses, noncitizens in the military perform extremely well. The
study, titled ``Noncitizens in Today's Military: Final Report.'' CRM
D0011O92.A2/Final, April 2005, showed that across the board,
noncitizens are a very valuable asset for the Armed Forces, providing
linguistic and cultural diversity to our military forces. They also
perform better in some respects than citizen recruits. To give one
example, the study showed that noncitizens ``have 36-month attrition
rates that are 9 to 20 percentage points lower than the attrition rates
of white citizens.'' The study also noted that ``much of the growth in
the recruitment-eligible population will come from immigration,''
making it more and more important for the armed services to attract and
\1\ Attorney (admitted in Alaska); Lieutenant Colonel, Military
Police, U.S. Army Reserve; and Associate Professor (Individual
Mobilization Augmentee), Department of Social Sciences, United States
Military Academy, West Point, NY. The statements, opinions, and views
expressed herein are those of the witness only and do not necessarily
represent the views of the United States Military Academy, the
Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.
5. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, what is your experience with
the motivations of immigrants who join the military?
Ms. Stock. Immigrants who join the military are motivated by the
same reasons that motivate native-born Americans to join the military--
they are patriotic, they wish to serve their country, they see the
military as an opportunity to help others, they believe that the
military will provide them with a fulfilling career opportunity.
6. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, do immigrants join the military
just to gain expedited citizenship, or are there other motivations?
Ms. Stock. Just like native-born recruits, they enjoy the military
lifestyle and embody military values such as honor and selfless
service. They also appreciate the educational and travel opportunities
that military service provides. While most immigrants arc very much
aware of the opportunity to obtain American citizenship faster through
their military service, this is not their only motivation for joining.
7. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, what is your experience with
the motivations of immigrant cadets who join the United States Military
Ms. Stock. With the exception of foreign exchange cadets, all
cadets at the United States Military Academy are United States
citizens, because U.S. citizenship is required for admission. Many
cadets, however, are naturalized United States citizens. They all
obtained their American citizenship before taking the oath to become
cadets, and so entering the Academy does not give them an advantage in
obtaining American citizenship. When I talk to them about their reasons
for joining the military, they cite the same reasons as native-born
cadets--the opportunity to serve their country and become leaders of
character, among other things. In addition, however, many of them tell
me that they feel a unique obligation to serve their adopted country,
the United States of America.
8. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, how do refugees and asylees
contribute or potentially contribute to the Armed Forces?
Ms. Stock. Refugees and asylees constitute an untapped, highly
qualified potential source of military manpower. They often come from
conflict-ridden countries in which our military forces are deployed or
may deploy in the future, and they have language and cultural skills
that are highly valued by our Armed Forces. They have also been
screened by DHS to ensure that they are not terrorists, and they are
admitted to the United States permanently so that eventually most will
become lawful permanent residents. Many of the military Services,
however, will not permit refugees and asylees to enlist until they have
obtained their lawful permanent residence--a process that can take
years, and which is dependent on DHS processing times. Congress has
given the Armed Forces the statutory authority to enlist these persons
where it is ``vital to the national interest,'' and should encourage
the military to take advantage of this untapped source of potential
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN THE ARMED FORCES
9. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, are illegal immigrants subject
to Selective Service?
Ms. Stock. Undocumented or illegal immigrants are required to
register for Selective Service under the terms of 50 U.S.C.S. Appendix
453 (requiring all foreign-born males age 18 to 26 who are residing
in the United States to register).
10. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, can illegal immigrants be
drafted in the event of a draft?
Ms. Stock. If a draft is instituted, they can be drafted (although
they can decline to serve and leave the United States, if they wish,
thereby incurring a permanent bar to obtaining American citizenship).
11. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, if illegal immigrants serve in
the military, are they treated differently in wartime than in
Ms. Stock. If they serve in the military during wartime, they can
obtain U.S. citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent
residence, under the provisions of section 329 of the Immigration and
Nationality Act. In peacetime, however, illegal or undocumented
immigrants cannot obtain lawful permanent residence or U.S. citizenship
through military service.
12. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, are there groups of
noncitizens who are legally present in the United States--but not yet
lawful permanent residents--who should or could be allowed to serve in
the U.S. Armed Forces?
Ms. Stock. Yes, there are many noncitizens who are present in the
United States who could potentially serve in the Aimed Forces, but who
are currently not permitted to enlist because of Service policy. These
included refugees, asylees, applicants for adjustment of status, and
certain nonimmigrants such as M-1B workers and foreign students. Under
the current enlistment statute, the Armed Forces are permitted to
enlist such persons if the Secretary of the Service concerned
determines that it is ``vital to the national interest.'' To dale, no
Service Secretary has made such a determination. Yet these noncitizens
constitute a pool of highly-qualified potential recruits.
U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR IMMIGRANTS
13. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, what effect does gaining
citizenship have on the morale and motivation of a U.S. serviceman?
Secretary Chu. It improves morale. Noncitizens who become citizens
can reap other benefits from military service, such as the ability to
apply for security clearances and receive substantial bonuses for
language skills. Naturalized servicemembers get other rights and
privileges of United States citizenship, such as the right to vote,
automatic granting of citizenship to dependent children, and the
ability to sponsor family members living overseas.
Noncitizens perform well, both throughout boot camp, and throughout
the first term of service. Many of them pursue citizenship while in the
military, which is positively correlated with retention. Noncitizens
provide the military with a rich pool of diverse recruits who have
significant potential to succeed.
14. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, what programs are currently
offered to immigrants for an accelerated path to citizenship? Please
Secretary Chu. Title 8, U.S.C., requires immigrants to be resident
aliens for 5 years before they can apply for United States citizenship.
Section 328 of title 8, U.S.C., allows noncitizens serving in the
United States Armed Forces during peacetime (including members of the
Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve) to apply for United States
citizenship after 1 year of honorable service.
Section 329 of title 8, U.S.C., allows the President to authorize
noncitizens serving in the United States military during times of
conflict to apply immediately for United States citizenship. Executive
Order 13269, signed July 3, 2002, authorized this exception, effective
September 11, 2001.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004
required the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
to provide overseas naturalization interviews, tests, and oaths, and to
waive the citizenship application fee for military personnel beginning
October 1, 2004.
The USCIS has established a special office in its Nebraska
Processing Center to expedite citizenship applications for military
members and their families. The average processing time has been
reduced from 9 months to less than 60 days.
15. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, how are immigrants recruited and
evaluated for this program?
Secretary Chu. The Department of Defense (DOD) has no specific
program to recruit noncitizens specifically for an accelerated path to
citizenship. Nonresident aliens, eligible for enlistment under section
504, title 10, U.S.C., are screened and evaluated under the same
criteria as all other potential enlistees. Once in the Service, of
course, there is a program for accelerated citizenship.
16. Senator McCain. Director Gonzalez, how important is it to an
immigrant to have the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen?
Mr. Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez did not respond in time for printing.
When received, answer will be retained in committee files.
17. Senator McCain. Director Gonzalez, what advantages does
citizenship afford immigrants in society?
Mr. Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez did not respond in time for printing.
When received, answer will be retained in committee files.
18. Senator McCain. Director Gonzalez, if the U.S. had a permanent
class of immigrants that were never able to become citizens, what
affect do you think it would have on that immigrant community and our
society as a whole?
Mr. Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez did not respond in time for printing.
When received, answer will be retained in committee files.
19. Senator McCain. Director Gonzalez, what improvements to the
naturalization process for military personnel have been made during
your time so far as Director of the USCIS?
Mr. Gonzales. The most recent improvement to the military
naturalization process became effective May 1, 2006. In collaboration
with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the DOD, USCIS
instituted a change in our fingerprint process to better serve U.S.
military personnel applying for naturalization. Under this improved
process, military members applying for naturalization may sign a
Privacy Act Statement and Release Authorization Form, explicitly
consenting to the use of the fingerprints provided at time of
enlistment for immigration benefits purposes, rather than having to
appear at one of our Application Support Centers post-deployment to
provide a new set of fingerprints. Furthermore, if we are aware of an
impending deployment, we expedite FBI name checks for soldiers. This
new procedure applies to all noncitizen members of the U.S. Armed
Forces seeking naturalization and eliminates a significant obstacle
that previously delayed some military naturalization cases.
20. Senator McCain. Director Gonzalez, how many posthumous
naturalizations have been granted by USCIS so far?
Mr. Gonzales. As of July 9, 2006, USCIS has granted posthumous
citizenship to 75 servicemembers stemming from the war on terror.
DIVERSE MILITARY CULTURE
21. Senator McCain. Secretary Chu, overall, what are the effects of
having a diverse military workforce and culture?
Secretary Chu. The United States military values and strives to
achieve a diverse workforce, because we believe that diversity produces
the strongest, most adept workforce with the most intelligence leaders.
Reflecting this consistent effort, on many fronts, the United States
military has been a leading institution providing equal opportunities
for racial and ethnic minorities and women. We welcome people with
disabilities in our civilian workforce and the military community,
which includes wounded servicemembers and many individuals with
disabilities among dependents and retirees.
Having a diverse military workforce and culture has several
positive effects on military readiness and accomplishment of the
Having a diverse military workforce and a military community
that welcomes diversity provides an inclusive environment that
encourages everyone to participate, put forward his best
efforts, and excel. This helps us attract the best talents from
every sector of the population. With the best talents from all
backgrounds, the United States military will continue to be the
best military in the world.
Diversity begets more diversity. The United States Census
Bureau projects that the country is increasingly diverse,
especially among youth. The military will face an increasingly
diverse recruiting market and it will need to attract youth
from diverse backgrounds. A diverse workforce may be an
attractive feature for potential recruits and a cause for
current members to remain in the military.
It is essential that the military reflect the country. In a
democracy, the strength of the military depends on the trust of
the people, and the American people are increasingly diverse.
The global war on terrorism is being fought in different
corners of the globe, where minorities may be better able to
blend in with local populations. Winning the global war on
terrorism requires more than directly engaging the enemy in the
battlefields. Military members who come from diverse
backgrounds often bring language skills and familiarity with
other cultures and customs that may enhance unit effectiveness
in intelligence gathering and building relationships with the
The global war on terrorism is also fought virtually, from
desks and offices throughout the United States, as well as
physically, in far-flung locations. Age and disability need not
be barriers to the effectiveness of DOD civilians in supporting
Having a diverse military workforce and culture communicates
to coalition forces, allies, and the world, an America that is
culturally and religiously tolerant. In this way, the United
States military can help change negative perceptions of
Americans around the world.
22. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, how will comprehensive
immigration reform help military members and their families?
Ms. Stock. Comprehensive immigration reform will help military
members and their families. Among the estimated 8 to 20 million illegal
or undocumented immigrants in America today are the families of
military members, and sometimes military members themselves. Many
military members have spouses, parents, siblings, and children who are
unable to obtain legal status in the United States today because our
current laws do not allow them to become legal. For example, many
military members have spouses who cannot obtain status in the United
Stales, but who cannot process for visas overseas because once they
depart the United States to try to obtain a visa, they trigger a
permanent bar to returning. These spouses are essentially trapped in
the United States as a result of the immigration ``reforms'' enacted in
1996. Comprehensive immigration reform will help these family members
obtain legal status.
23. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, does the ``enforcement only''
approach help or hurt them?
Ms. Stock. An ``enforcement only'' approach will hurt them, because
they will be deported and barred from returning to the United Stales
permanently. We have already seen cases where military members fighting
in Iraq have experienced serious added stress because they fear that
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will deport their family
members while they are overseas fighting for this country. In some
cases, DHS has even moved to deport the military members themselves.
Comprehensive immigration reform will also help the Armed Forces
generally by adjusting the status of many undocumented or illegal
immigrants who are currently residing in the United Slates. Once these
persons have been cleared by DHS and obtained legal status, many will
likely enlist in the Armed Forces. The armed services are currently
turning away many highly-qualified recruits because these recruits do
not have legal status.
24. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, what sorts of immigration
problems do members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families
encounter? Please provide examples.
Ms. Stock. Military members and their families of course encounter
the same problems with our immigration system that nonmilitary people
experience, including slow processing of cases. In addition, they
experience special problems as a result of their military duty and the
fact that military families move frequently. For example, some military
members have had applications by their spouses denied because the
military member has been unable to appear at an interview in the United
States because he or she is deployed; in these cases, the DHS officers
have denied the petition or application, rather than rescheduling it or
conducting a telephone interview. In other cases, the military member's
frequent moves have caused the petition or application to be delayed or
denied because DHS sends notices to old addresses, or the application
or petition must be transferred to a new office. Finally, consular
officers have denied visas to the family members of immigrants because
the consular officers believe that military salaries are too low to
meet the ''public charge'' requirements of the immigration laws. These
problems create added stress for military families.
25. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, has the Judge Advocates
General Corps been effective in providing legal assistance on
immigration and citizenship problems to members of the U.S. Armed
Forces and if not, why not?
Ms. Stock. The Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps legal assistance
officers try very hard to help military members with their immigration
problems. When dealing with very simple mailers, JAG officers do a
reasonable job of helping military members and their families.
Unfortunately, however, immigration law is extremely complex, and the
vast majority of JAG attorneys do not have the background or training
necessary to spot or solve complex military-related immigration
problems. JAG officers are generally trained only in the basics of
immigration law. I have had opportunity to provide immigration-related
legal assistance to military members, alongside JAG officers, and have
observed many cases in which well-meaning JAG officers have provided
incorrect advice about U.S. immigration law to military members. In
some cases, this incorrect advice has led to very serious consequences
for the military members and their families.
JAG officers who are aware of the complexity of U.S. immigration
law do refer military members to outside lawyers with immigration law
expertise. In those cases, however, the military members must usually
pay the legal fees of these private lawyers, which can be substantial.
In many cases, military members cannot afford to hire private
attorneys, and are forced to handle the immigration matter themselves,
which can lead to disastrous results.
26. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, what are some of the ways that
the immigration system could be reformed to make it more responsive to
the needs of members of the Armed Forces?
Ms. Stock. First, comprehensive immigration reform will help--
especially if it makes it possible for military family members to
become legal, and if the immigration system becomes less complex and
possible to navigate without the assistance of a highly-trained
attorney. Next, central handling of military-related cases is useful,
because a central office is more likely to be sympathetic and able to
handle military-related problems such as frequent moves and
deployments. Third, military members would be greatly assisted by a
specific statute preventing DHS from initiating deportation or removal
proceedings against them and their family members, and a statutory
waiver for certain technical violations of the immigration laws that
affect military members and their families. Finally, DHS should be
encouraged to provide more training to its employees with regard to the
special situations of military personnel.
27. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, how would enactment of the
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act help
the U.S. Armed Forces?
Ms. Stock. Passage of the DREAM Act (S. 1545) would help the armed
services considerably by dramatically expanding the numbers of highly-
qualified American-educated young people who are eligible to enlist in
28. Senator McCain. Professor Stock, do you foresee any problems
with the DREAM Act?
Ms. Stock. The committee should be aware, however, that the DREAM
Act does pose some problems for the military: Because of language in
the law, DREAM Act beneficiaries who serve in the military will take
much longer to get their U.S. citizenship than other noncitizens who
join the military. This problem arises because the latest draft of the
DREAM Act prohibits DREAM Act beneficiaries from becoming naturalized
U.S. citizens until they have had the conditions lifted on their lawful
permanent residence status--and this process is entirely dependent on
DHS processing times, which may take years. Finally, the committee
should be aware that some of the armed services have a policy of
refusing to enlist conditional lawful permanent residents, for reasons
that relate to an apparent misunderstanding of what ``conditional
lawful permanent residence'' means. Thus, although conditional lawful
permanent residents today are permitted by law to enlist in the Armed
Forces, some military branches have a policy against enlisting them
until the conditions are lifted on their status. If this policy
continues after passage of the DREAM Act, these branches of the
military will presumably prohibit DREAM Act beneficiaries from
enlisting (all DREAM Act beneficiaries will be conditional lawful
permanent residents). Essentially, these beneficiaries will be in a
``Catch 22'' with regard to their status, at least with regard to
military service. Congress should direct the Armed Forces to stop
prohibiting conditional lawful permanent residents from enlisting.
[Whereupon, at 1:25 p.m., the committee adjourned.]