A group of veterans gathered in Washington DC last Thursday to hold a press conference to voice their support for the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Veterans for Immigration Reform, otherwise known as Vets4Reform, used the conference to present a collaboratively-authored paper entitled On the Front Line: Impacts of Immigrants on Military Force Readiness, which outlines the positive and powerful effect immigrant soldiers have on the US military, which is the group’s reason for supporting immigration reform.
Veterans have unexpectedly become one of the most vocal demographics calling for immigration reform, though this is perhaps unsurprising given a closer look at the numbers. Around 12% of all surviving veterans are either immigrants or have immigrant parents, and there were 65,000 immigrant active military personnel in 2013, making up 5% of the year’s active enlisted soldiers.
“These men and women [immigrant soldiers] came from places like Mexico, Honduras and Vietnam, and chose to defend our country,” says Brett Hunt, who founded Veterans for Immigration Reform. “They were part of a great tradition that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War of immigrants taking up the charge of defending their adopted homeland. I have a duty to get their back and ensure that our country does right by them.”
Although Hunt and his group are by no means alone in their support of immigration reform, the defeat of House majority leader Eric Cantor in last week’s primary election has brought yet another cloud over the possibility of any such reform taking place in 2014.