“If [the military wants] to attract new members, we must evolve past our image as stodgy, out-of-touch white men.”The Obama administration met with the Pentagon last Friday to discuss the implications of overturning the current ban on undocumented immigrants serving in the military. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta supports the measure, saying, “Let’s celebrate our rich diversity and renew our nation’s commitment to equality for all.”
Many strong, eager patriots have not enlisted in the military because of its perceived hostility towards the foreign-born. To strengthen their case, the administration has enlisted over 200 retired generals from all over the world who support overturning the ban.
Though nothing is definite, Pentagon officials released a statement that nearly two million service members have been drilled on the changes that would take place under a repeal. The most significant change is clear: being foreign will no longer bar individuals from military service, and servicemen would no longer be segregated simply for being foreign. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants in the military would receive the same benefits as U.S. citizens, including health care with dental and vision plans, and allowances for education and housing.
The proposal still has some resistance from right-leaning lawmakers, who fear that immigrants might compromise the military through various forms of sabotage, but Mario Brookman, head of the international students’ center at the University of Washington, believes otherwise: “The right’s paranoia of foreigners as savage, violent and untrustworthy is completely unfounded, and rooted in white privilege. After all, we are all immigrants, except the indigenous persons whose land we stole through violent force.”
Marines recruiter Leonard Fish believes a repeal is necessary if the military wants to remain relevant and popular in a changing cultural climate: “If we want to attract new members, we must evolve past our image as stodgy, out-of-touch white men.”