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.

This sounds strangely familiar...
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