Illegal Aliens in the Military?


This was published a few days ago on It’s gotten about 150 comments on Facebook. And of those 150, I think only two of them actually read the article.


The headline jumped at me like a Bouncing Betty: “Department of Defense Planning to Let Illegal Immigrants Enlist.” The words evoke images of prison-tattooed gang members wading across the Rio Grande, sprinting from exhausted Border Patrol agents to the nearest recruiting office, exclaiming “Sign me up, pendejo!” and giving an MS-13 salute as they board the bus for Benning. The story was, on its face, too unrealistic to believe. There had to be more to it than what the headline suggested.

I’m extremely interested in the topic of immigrants in the military, for several reasons. My family is originally from Mexico, although my ancestors came to America about a hundred years ago. My great-grandfather was either drafted into or joined the U.S. Army not long after he arrived (I have no idea what his immigration status was). He had completed training and was at the station waiting to board a train to a troop ship heading to the battlefields of the Great War, when a loudspeaker announced the Armistice. All of his sons save one served in the military during World War II or Korea. His oldest son, my great uncle Leo, was killed in the Bataan Death March. His youngest son, my great uncle Richard, was a Marine in Korea. Generations later, his descendants — me and my niece — are still serving.

Read the rest at

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for, Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page (

10 Responses to “Illegal Aliens in the Military?”

  1. 1 Taylor H

    I’m glad you posted on this issue. Cleared up a lot of things for me. I hope we keep strict standards when accepting illegal aliens, but I’ve no doubt that there are many who would serve the country well. So long as we don’t end up like the late Imperial Romans, filling the ranks with non-citizens who have questionable loyalty, I think we’ll be all right.

    Of course, one has to wonder why we’re not allowing combat veterans AND other interested persons to enlist at the same time. Everyone except the President seems eager to build up the armed forces, with IS on the rampage.

  2. 2 Ken

    The arguments against immigration nearly all trace back to the idea that it’s unfair for immigrants to receive benefits that are being paid for by American citizens, particularly welfare. In my mind, these are excellent arguments against the welfare state and not immigration. Immigration for the life of the republic has always been a touchy subject, but one thing to keep in mind is that our (American) borders were completely open for most of our history, where people could come and go as they pleased, with pretty much no official oversight. These times were prosperous and mostly peaceful. They were also times where Americans took responsibility for their own lives, rather than childishly turn to the government to take care of them.

    Similarly, I find your complaint that “[m]en and women who have already risked their lives for their nation and planned on making the military a career are being forced out” unpersuasive because it leaves unsaid why they are being forced out, as well as ignores the very real top heavy problem of the military. Many of the costs associated with having career military is the absurdity of lifetime benefits that retirees get, for only 20 years of work; since many can expect to live to 80, this means 20 years of work to get 60 years of compensation (joining at 20, retiring at 40 and living till 80 means 20 years of pay, plus 40 years of retirement benefits, which could extend even further if the retiree has eligible dependents). The military, and all government agencies, should change to defined contribution plans and away from defined benefits.

    The flip side of your argument is to recognize that many people would join the military, but are uninterested in making it a career. Because all of the retirement benefits accrued during one or two enlistments are completely given up, what’s the point of spending years of your life and getting hosed on your retirement? I have often thought of becoming a cop, but have no real interest in spending decades as a cop, so I will accrue exactly nothing for retirement at most police departments. I’ve been working for some time and have a lot to offer many police departments, but since most do not have equivalent 401(k)’s, but are at best some combination of defined benefits and defined contribution and often just defined benefits, where the defined benefits completely goes away unless you reach full retirement, there is no long term financial benefit for me to even consider police work. The same calculus is done my millions of Americans around the country with regard to the military and are reaching the conclusion that a military stint just isn’t worth it, which is a justifiable conclusion to reach.

    In other words, it looks like your argument against immigrants, which I fully understand is balanced by an argument for, in the military is based on poor financial incentive structures,i.e, who pays and who benefits and why. These can and should be changed. Your argument against immigrants in the military are much stronger arguments for changing those financial structures, rather than preventing immigrants in the military.

    • Very well-written response, but I’m going to guess you didn’t read the entire article. I actually do support the new law allowing some illegals into the military.

      • 4 Ken

        “I’m going to guess you didn’t read the entire article”

        If you have to guess, you clearly didn’t read my entire comment. If you had you would have read “your argument against immigrants, which I fully understand is balanced by an argument for” (emphasis added).

        I do, however, appreciate the kind words with which you started your comment.

        • Ken,

          My essay wasn’t an argument against this program, balanced by an argument for it. It was an argument for it, with a recognition of the objections. Just clarifying. I’ve read your comment a few times, and it seems to me that you think I’m simply discussing both sides of the issue. If I’ve misread that, my bad.

          • 6 Ken


            I get annoyed at statements like “I’m going to guess you didn’t read the entire article”, as they are petty accusations and often assumes bad intentions, rather than giving the benefit of the doubt. I was especially annoyed at such pettiness from you, as you are an honest and honorable person. Your reaction to assume bad intentions or laziness on my part (that I ignored or didn’t read parts of your post), rather than a lack of clarity in your article or a lack of understanding of my comment on yours, was I think unwarranted. If you’ll note, I made no accusations towards you anywhere in my original comment; if you took it as such, then I apologize for being unclear and will try harder in the future to be clearer. I know the anonymity of the internet and the brutal nature of the comments section makes it easy to be cynical and not give the benefit of the doubt to others. Even now I feel like a dick because it now sounds like I am sermonizing in this comment, which to some extent I am. On the other hand I know how I can sometimes be and I know how tone is nearly impossible to be conveyed anonymously and in writing. Some things that are written respectfully and seriously can be heard by your inner voice with a tone that was not intended; I should take more care in my writing if it was this easy for someone like you to misread the intentions of my comment. I enjoy this site very much and take to heart what you have to say, as it is clear you are a very serious person and should be taken seriously. As such I have some respect for you, which is why I was disappointed by your accusation.

            My intentions with my first comment were not to attack or support any part of your post, but merely to express my opinion on what I see as one of the foundational problems with the immigration debate, in the broad scope, and the narrower effects on the military and police. I have spent my entire adult life working in and with (after my enlistment) the military, as well as coming from a cop family. I saw and see first hand the effects that policies have on both institutions, institutions I care very much about. Both of these institutions are filled with decent and honorable people, who are put into very bad situations by politicians and policy makers with poor understanding of the incentives many of their bad policies have. The military in particular seems to be the favorite guinea pig/whipping boy for the latest fad in social engineering, of which immigration is a part.

          • Ken,

            We’re missing each other’s intent. I wasn’t accusing you; since I only posted part of the article, I honestly thought you might not have read all of it. Again, I took your comment to mean that you thought I was arguing against the new law. Since I wasn’t, and you’re obviously an intelligent man, I thought you might have missed an important part of the essay. No accusation or insult was intended or implied.

  3. Thanks for the personal insight. As a veteran of the Vietnam era in the USAF I did train alongside Thai and other Asian Forces. Keep up the good work. I appreciate your comments, they do make sense.

  4. 9 Vincent S.

    Hello Chris,

    Actually, I am agree with you that some french people wants to emigrate mainly to US, because of culture (music, films, etc ), and Canada too (because of Quebec and french canadian). In France, there is a crisis of tust (“Une crise de confiance”) in our government. There are lots of social crisis everywhere due to the politic. But I’m also surprised to see a lots of North American living in France. I know two american family, one was recent immigrates, for their retirement, the second was an american soldier who married with a french girl during WWII.

    For decades, people of every country want to emigrate to see new landscapes, to have an aother life style or to discover a new culture, it’s not new. Here, in France, we have not the same problem than you, because of the Foreign Legion, but I can understand that it can be strange to see stranger in the regular army.

    Hope my response was enough clear for you,

    Vincent S.

    PS: I don’t know if you remember me, but I succeed my test in the paras formation to enter 8 RPIMa.

    • Vincent,

      Understood, and I know of many Americans who have moved to Europe. I’d love to live in Europe again for a while, but I wouldn’t give up American citizenship.

      Felicitation on passing your entrance exam! When do you join the 8 RPIMa?

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