On December 4, 2023, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin proposed a controversial idea on the floor of the US Senate, suggesting that illegal aliens should be offered a pathway to United States citizenship if they choose to join the military. Durbin, who serves as the Senate Majority Whip and chairs the Judiciary Committee, put forth this concept as part of the broader immigration and border security debate.
Durbin acknowledged the need for border security reforms and recognized the complexity of the immigration issue, emphasizing that there is a significant demand for legal immigration to the United States. He referred to legislation introduced by fellow Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, which aims to provide immigrant service members with assistance in obtaining US citizenship and veterans’ benefits.
Senator Durbin explained that Senator Duckworth’s bill would allow undocumented individuals in the country to serve in the military, provided they meet specific physical and background test requirements and serve honorably. In return, they would be granted US citizenship.
Durbin justified his proposal by highlighting the recruitment challenges faced by the US military, stating that they struggle to meet their monthly quotas for new enlistments. He argued that there are undocumented individuals who wish to serve and are willing to risk their lives for the country, and they should be given the opportunity to do so.
However, Senator Durbin’s proposal faced criticism from Republicans who argued against enlisting illegal aliens in the US military to attain citizenship. Texas Congressman Randy Weber expressed concerns about allowing individuals who entered the country illegally to take an oath to support and defend the nation.
Joe Kent, a former Green Beret and Republican candidate for Washington state’s third congressional district, also opposed the idea. He emphasized the importance of securing the borders, deporting illegal immigrants, and maintaining a meritocratic approach to military service.
Kent warned against normalizing the use of illegal immigrants in the workforce, particularly in the military, and stressed the need to prioritize the recruitment of legally present individuals.
The proposal raised broader questions about immigration policy, national security, and the direction of the US military recruitment. While some argue that it could help address recruitment challenges, others express concerns about the potential consequences of integrating undocumented individuals into the military, invoking historical parallels and the need for a comprehensive political response to this complex issue.
Author: Scott Dowdy