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Killing two birds with one stone

Every now and then, a strange confluence of events will occur. Two seemingly-unrelated problems will converge, and solve each other. And I think I've discovered a potential for that to happen.

I've spoken repeatedly about illegal immigration, and the problems it poses for our nation. More and more people want to come to the United States, and don't bother with such niceties as finding out what the proper procedures are and how to follow them. Other such obstacles, such as fences and gates and checkpoints, are also tossed aside in their desire to get here.

At the same time, military recruitment quotas are falling short. This is no surprise -- we're currently at war, and the economy's doing OK. Consequently, a lot of people are looking at a career in the military and saying thanks, but no thanks.

I think both of these can be solved with a simple idea I've heard tossed around before, blended with a notion shamelessly lifted from Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers."

I think it's time we looked into establishing an American Foreign Legion. Aliens from any part of the world can contact any American embassy (or, if they're already here, any designated government office) and enlist. They would serve for five years (or so; the term can be settled later), and at the conclusion of their service, they would be eligible for either American citizenship or permanent resident status -- whichever they prefer.

Now, not everyone is fit for military service, so that is where Heinlein's idea (voting privileges only for those who serve) comes into play. Not every Legionnaire would serve in a combatant capacity, or even a military one. They would simply be obliged to serve the government in one way or another. They might end up serving in a state DMV, or the State Department as a translator, or the Border Patrol. They might end up cleaning the heads on a Coast Guard cutter. The one key element is that they would go wherever they were assigned, do whatever they were assigned, for the term of their agreement.

Now, this would not be any form of slavery or indentured servitude. They would be paid for their services, and could quit at any time. But upon their resignation, they would be immediately deported and barred from entering the United States for the remaining term of their agreement, from applying for residency in the United States for five years after that, and applying for citizenship for five more years after that.

It's a simple and elegant solution. If you want the benefits of being an American, those rights those of us who were born here are prone to take for granted, feel free. All you have to do is demonstrate your sincerity up-front. Give us five years of service, and we'll give you the rest of your life with all the rights and privileges (and obligations) of being an American.

Comments (23)

Interesting idea, I'll be p... (Below threshold)

Interesting idea, I'll be pondering it today. But you obviously don't live in CA. "If you want the benefits of being an American," it's best to be an illegal.

The U.S. military already t... (Below threshold)

The U.S. military already takes foreign recruits.

In Mexico if you want to ho... (Below threshold)

In Mexico if you want to hold a government job of any kind, including school teacher, have an official marriage rather than a legal union, drive a taxi, or be any kind of licensed professional and you are male you must serve your public service, usually military, for one year. UNPAID. I don't see any reason why your plan isn't a good one.

In spite of the Foreign Leg... (Below threshold)

In spite of the Foreign Legion's success in France, this plan amounts to putting weapons in the hands of potential enemies and training them in the their use. It was disastrous for the Celts of Britain who, around 500 AD, invited in the Angles and Saxons to protect the country from attack by the Vikings. Of course, the Anglo-Saxons occupied the best land in the southeast and pushed the Welsh and Scots to the less desirable western and northern uplands. Such a policy worked out no better for the Romans, who invited selected barbarians to serve in the Roman army. I say mow our own grass and defend our own country.

I don't know if it would be... (Below threshold)

I don't know if it would be a good idea to have legions of non-English-speaking people serving the military or government. Assuming only those who spoke English would get to serve in the military part of it, wouldn't everyone just deny they spoke English so they could clean up freeway detritis? There would have to be additional incentives like getting to be a citizen in 3 years vs. 5 years if you are on active duty.

Also, would you want Mexican immigrants doing Mexican border patrol? There's a good way to get rich with bribes.

I'd guess that part of the ... (Below threshold)

I'd guess that part of the success of the French Foreign Legion is that they don't do domestic duty, AFAIK. Not only are they foreigners, but they serve at overseas posts. An "American Foreign Legion" regiment serving in Korea (for instance) might be the equivalent.

Of course, given the disappearance of French colonial holdings since 1940, there may not be many overseas postings available for the FFL anymore. I'm too lazy to Google it right now....

It would be good if this id... (Below threshold)

It would be good if this idea could be modified and extended to voting rights across the board. Only those willing to demonstrate a personal investment of time, talent and energy into service to their country allowed to vote? I could live with that. Even a qualification period now, in my 50s. Where do I sign up?

I think I will take a pass ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think I will take a pass on a US foreign legion.

The answer to the immigration problem isn't to invite them to all join the military (could you imagine trying to overcome the language barrier) it is to make immigration easier and cheaper for those who want to come here, and have a zero tolerance policy for illegal immigrants (send them home as soon as they are caught) and to fine heavily company's caught knowingly employing them.

Right on, Just Me! If anyo... (Below threshold)

Right on, Just Me! If anyone complaining loudly about illegal immigrants (are you listening, Michelle Malkin?) would take a look at how idiotic the current system is to become a legal immigrant, you would realize the solution is a little more complex than border enforcement. Step one has to be to streamline the process for legal immigration, step 2 is zero tolerance...

bullwinkle...yeah, but most... (Below threshold)

bullwinkle...yeah, but most of us are pretty sure those one-year "service" terms in Mexico are not, actually, UNPAID. As in, they're not fooling anyone as to who is paying the tab of recruiting, training and sustaining Mexican government "officials". Both in training and afterward.

I like our United States mi... (Below threshold)

I like our United States military traditions and organizations just as they are.

Haven't seen any better alternatives anywhere else.

And, what a4g wrote (^^).

Jezebel: something about a... (Below threshold)

Jezebel: something about all the millions of legal immigrants successfully living today in the U.S. defiles your rationalization.

And, simply because something is confounding when done correctly does not therefore assign acceptability to violating laws inorder to workaround.

Just think...scientists found the atomic bomb so frustrating and complex and confounding and confusing and just downright objectionably difficult that they opted to blow up the Earth's core as an alternative. Oh, yeah, THAT'll be something: an explosion is an explosion, right?

I had a similar idea... (Below threshold)

I had a similar idea last year that started out as a joke, then steamrolled its way to become a serious post.


I can just hear people screaming "GULAG!"

"I say mow our own grass an... (Below threshold)

"I say mow our own grass and defend our own country."

A lot of people here will agree with you on this point but I you should most expect most of these same people to actually do anything about it themselves and sya, join the military. Rather, they suggest that immigrants should do it because, well, we've been through that in other threads.

Hey, it worked! Just mentio... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Hey, it worked! Just mention "military" and frame will pop up, Pavlovian, and say "why don't you sign up?"

Actually, that's unfair to Pavlov's dogs. THey had to be conditioned. Frame seems to come by it naturally. I can't even call him a one-trick pony without insulting horses.

Tell me, frame, do you EVER have a response besides "Bush is bad," "the war was/is illegal," and "then why don't YOU enlist?"

I thought not.


Frame can say that to me.</... (Below threshold)

Frame can say that to me.

8 years, USAF, Captain. 48th FIS, 86th TFW, and finally in the 32nd Air Ops Group at Ramstein. Lived in 4 countries (US, Germany, Spain, and Côte d'Ivoire), speak 4 languages.

A few hundred combat hours along with 23 humantarian missions including building a hospital in Croatia for Muslim refugess (don't see the MSM saying too much about that) as well as volunteering (while on active duty) to lead a unit to Goma, Zaire during the '94 Hutu/Tutsi dance to help fight a cholera outbreak.

Ever see a pile of 10,000 dead bodies? I have. Still do damn near every night when I sleep. You don't forget it. Thank whatever deity you worship if you haven't and pray to them that you never do.

Followed my military career with a 2 year stint in the Peace Corps and USAID in Africa. Guess I hadn't seen enough misery so I had to go back for more. :)

I am now in my third successful career. I am neither religious or a European white male (Hispanic if it matters at all). I am not at all what the left thinks is the typical conservative voter. Far from it and I know more conservatives like me than the condescending "ignorant, Bible thumping redneck" they think voted them down last election.

I am an American citizen. I have served--not only my country but my fellow mankind in more hell holes than most people even know exists much less have done anything about.

Before someone asks me to put up or shut up they damn well better be prepared to hear that I've put up far more than they ever dreamed of doing.

I find the ones who usually make that statement do so because they've done nothing themselves.

JayYour idea is very... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Your idea is very interesting and should be given serious consideration by the powers that be. It's a good place to start the conversation if you want to help manage the immigration problem better.

I do know that even if we did all that you suggest, we would still have to have much better border security than we do now. (that problem would be greatly improved if we took every graduating class from all military basic training programs and had them patrol the border for the first few weeks of their military career.)

I will quibble with one part of your post:
"...with all the rights and privileges (and obligations) of being an American."

Puhleeze. We don't have obligations in America. Just stick your hand out and demand your 'right' to basic human needs, and some advocacy group will be there to bring a lawsuit on your behalf. Desert the Navy that you volunteered for, and nothing will happen to you. Form a man-boy pedophile organization, and a civil 'rights' group will sue anyone on your behalf. And win. Live your life drunk, stoned, drop out of school, be uneducated (and proud of it!), produce kids out of wedlock, and demand your 'right' to more taxes from those who work for a living.

The lack of obligations is going to kill our country, unless those who do contribute to society speak out and demand that everyone be held responsible for their actions.

Les:Thanks for you... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:


Thanks for your kind words. But would you accept "pay your taxes" as an "obligation?"

I know it ain't much, but it's something...


JayNot everyone pays... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Not everyone pays income taxes. If you make below a certain amount, you don't have to pay; in fact, you may get extra money back from the gov't. Which is yet another form of Welfare. Those people get all the bennies of living in Uncle Sugar's house, but none of the obligations.

But those of us who do work for a living certainly pay taxes, so I take your point.

"Which is yet another form ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"Which is yet another form of Welfare."

Just so you understand, the concept behind the EIC was to give a tax credit to people in low income groups that would offset their burden of the payroll taxes. So you may be opposed to the EIC, but it isn't really fair to call it welfare either.

JMIf, at the end of ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

If, at the end of the year, certain people receive more money BACK than they paid IN, then yes, they are in fact receiving a form of welfare.

You can tell me all about the 'concepts' behind this program, the ideas behind another program, or the conceptual ideas behind yet another program until the cows come home. Bottom line: do they or do they not receive gov't (aka taxpayer) money? If yes, then it's a handout. (btw, I'm not saying there should be no handouts; just don't tell me they aren't handouts.)

What 'Just Me' said.. the E... (Below threshold)

What 'Just Me' said.. the EIC offsets income tax AND FICA (that little hidden tax that is rather highly regresive.)

Getting back to the origina... (Below threshold)

Getting back to the original thread, it's not a bad idea, in theory. But it's not without flaws. Just ask any Roman historian about the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. There, a Cherusci chieftan named Arminius, who had served in the legions and achieved citizenship, came home to find his people being oppressed by the Roman governor Publius Quintilius Varus. So he secretly organized a revolt of the Cherusci. Then, as a trusted ally of the Empire, he was able to lead three legions--a tenth of the entire Roman army worldwide--into an ambush. Out of 20,00 soldiers, their families and camp followers, only 500 or so escaped, including Varus, who later committed suicide. The Romans were forced to abandon all of their settlements and withdraw to the Rhine River. They never again came close to conquering, settling and civilizing what is modern-day Germany. That lack of civilizing effect gets a lot of the blame from historians for the atrocities committed by Germany in the 20th century.

Thus endeth the (painfully longwinded) history lesson.






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