Bipartisan lawmakers eye 'pilot program' to expedite citizenship for migrants who serve in US military


FIRST ON FOX: A Republican and Democrat are joining forces and pushing for a faster pathway to citizenship for migrants who serve in the U.S. military.

It comes after talks about overhauling the border and the U.S. immigration system fell through this week after months of negotiations.

Reps. John James, R-Mich., and Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., are introducing the “Courage to Serve Act,” which would put qualified and vetted migrants into an expedited lane to eventually become U.S. citizens if they serve in the armed forces.

According to the text of the bill obtained by Fox News Digital, the legislation would create a pilot program that would apply to people with no lawful permanent status, like asylum seekers and migrants waiting for work authorization. They would require vetting by both the FBI and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

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John James and pat Ryan

Republican Rep. John James, left, and Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan, right, are teaming up to help migrants who serve in the U.S. military get a faster pathway to citizenship. (Getty Images)

Qualified migrants could apply for lawful permanent residency within 180 days of enlisting in the military, the text said. 

Their applications would be expedited after three years of “honorable service in the Armed Forces,” one year in an active duty zone or 30 days in a designated combat zone. 

The application would not guarantee citizenship, and the applicant would still have to be admissible under existing U.S. immigration law.

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Lawful permanent residency is often the slowest portion of the citizenship process. The lawmakers reason that the process would be faster for those who serve.

James and Ryan, both veterans, cited the need for immigration reform and solving the military’s recruitment crisis in statements on their bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., held a failed vote on a border security overhaul this week. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“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 told Fox News Digital.

He also took a swipe at the failed negotiations over an immigration and border compromise.

“Earlier this week, partisan posturing got in the way of passing significant immigration reform,” Ryan said. “But I’m not giving up the fight. I’ll keep pushing every day for concrete, practical and actionable measures to secure our border, address critical military recruiting shortfalls and help immigrants already in this country build a better life for their families.”

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“Some of the heroes Pat and I served with in Iraq were immigrants, and I can’t think of a more deserving person to become an American citizen than immigrants who are willing to serve in our military,” James told Fox News Digital.

He cited statistics that the Army missed its recruitment goal by 25% in 2022.

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“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.

An effort to pass $118 billion in supplemental security aid and new border policies failed in the Senate Wednesday in the face of mounting GOP opposition in both the House and Senate.



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