Non-citizen soldiers, veterans, and their families : defense personnel policy and the principles of American politics
This report examines the place of non-citizen soldiers, veterans, and their families in U.S. political and civil life. Historically, military service has allowed marginalized groups to earn their social and political status as equal citizens. Part one of this report explores why, despite this history, recent legislative changes, and a 2002 Executive Order eliminating the legal and bureaucratic barriers to naturalization, less than forty percent of the non-citizen servicemen and women today actually acquire U.S. citizenship while on active duty. Part two examines the political and policy context surrounding a soldier's decisions to naturalize. It suggests that some soldiers may be “undocumented”; they forgo naturalization to protect themselves and their families. Part three discusses the legal, political, and normative implications of current policy. Some practices, such as the deportation of alien veterans, challenge the foundations of the American political order. The place of undocumented soldiers and veterans raises important issues about civic obligation, the cultural narratives that define membership in and service to the state, and the ruling political collations in which these narratives find support.