We all know the undocumented people living here have broken the law by coming in illegally or overstaying their visa and yet, something has to be done to get them registered and legalized. A majority of our citizens say we should find a way to solve this problem. This country needs them.
One reason we need these undocumented workers to become legal residents is to keep Social Security funded. Fifty or 60 years ago, when Social Security was new, it took 20 workers to keep enough tax money flowing in to keep a retired person on Social Security. Within 25 years, at the rate we are going now, there will only be two workers paying money in to cover each retiree. And in 25 years all the baby boomers will be in that group of retirees and the next generation will be getting ready to retire. Add the fact that people are living much longer than before and it’s easy to see why we need more young workers now. We also need a steady supply of young workers coming into the system. The young immigrant workers who are already here may be the answer to the Social Security funding problems of the future.
The reason most of these people came here was for work, because there is no work in their home countries that will support their families. If these millions of workers were suddenly sent back to their countries, it would cripple those economies along with hurting ours. They would be sent to the end of very long unemployment lines and never have any hope of finding work. The money they had been sending home to their families would stop and this would hurt the families and their economy.
Some gangs that are powerful in Latin American countries have started gangs in this country, mostly involved in drugs. This is a small minority of the undocumented immigrants who are here, but it is enough to worry about, especially when they recruit members from groups who are alienated from the mainstream.
Young legal and illegal immigrants in our country, who are unable to assimilate, often because they lack English proficiency, are recruited into these gangs. These teens drop out of school, can't get jobs and are isolated from the mainstream. Gangs provide a good way to join a circle of "friends" and be accepted by others. The ones without strong families are looking for acceptance and join gangs to belong to a group.
There are almost 30,000 non citizens now on active duty in the U.S. military. These service members are defending a country in which they don't have the most important of our rights, voting for the people who could send them to war.
The waiting period for citizenship for immigrants in the military has been decreased from 5 years to 3 years. In 2004, President Bush signed an order allowing active duty immigrants serving at least one year during conflict to be eligible to apply for citizenship in even less time, without many of the usual requirements. And they don't have to return home before applying.
Many immigrants place a high value on military training and the additional education available through the military. When citizenship requirements are eased for those who join the military, even more immigrants than usual sign up.
If the undocumented immigrants here now were given legal status, there would be a huge additional pool of recruits and there will be a high number who will enlist for these new citizenship benefits. This would add sufficient numbers to the regular military and possibly enable the National Guard to remain at home.
The CIA's World Factbook lists 30 countries with a negative population growth and 13 of them are our NATO allies. The U.S. population growth rate is about even, which means our military will stay about the same size. But we must make sure our population increases to a higher rate so we can keep our military numbers sufficient and make up for some of our allies who have decreasing numbers.
Another benefit to having all these additional recruits is that the pay incentives that are necessary now to reach the quotas may be able to be decreased or dropped entirely. This would save money for the government and the money saved could be used to keep equipment repaired and replaced on schedule.
These additional legal residents would help Social Security and our military and be an invaluable part of our society.
Yesterday I listed several areas we will all benefit when there is immigration reform which would legalize the millions of people living here illegally; the military, Social Security, our economy, our future economy, education and national security. The first column talked about our economy, this one was about Social Security and the military. The next one will continue with the others.