Posted on February 21, 2024

Bill Offers Faster Path to American Citizenship for Migrants Who Enlist in Military

Cory Smith, National Desk, February 9, 2024

Lawmakers are introducing a bill to give migrants who enlist in the U.S. military an expedited path to citizenship.

The “Courage to Serve Act” is sponsored by Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., and Rep. John James, R-Mich. – both veterans and West Point classmates.

“I know it firsthand – there’s no higher honor than serving your country in uniform,” Ryan said in a news release Friday.

“If folks have the courage to raise their right hand, swear an oath to protect and defend this nation, and put their lives on the line, then they sure as hell deserve the opportunity to become an American citizen.”

Ryan, who blamed the failure of the Senate immigration deal this week on “partisan posturing,” and James say their bill addresses two pressing concerns in the country: an influx of migrants looking for work and the severe recruiting deficits for our military.

The Army was about 15,000 soldiers short of its fiscal 2023 recruitment goal. It only met 76% of its goal last year after only meeting 75% the year before.

The Air Force and Navy also fell short of their enlistment goals last year. The Air Force met 89% of its goal and the Navy 80% of its goal.


Only 23% of young Americans meet the Army’s enlistment standards. And the services have had trouble attracting those who do qualify.

“Immigration is both an economic and moral imperative, and giving specific America-loving immigrants who want to serve the country the chance to become citizens is a no-brainer,” James said in the news release. {snip}

There’s already a path to naturalization through military service. The biggest difference with this bill is that it would make the naturalization process faster and more automatic, said Kevin R. Johnson, an expert in immigration law and policy at UC Davis.