If Osama bin Laden snuck into our country illegally, bought fake immigration papers and changed his name to Osmundo Ben Ladeno, could he join the U.S. military?
Last week, the Army announced that Pvt. Juan Escalante, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who had used a $50 bogus green card to enlist, would be allowed to remain in the armed forces. Wait, there's even more good news for ID fakers looking to infiltrate the military: Thanks to President Bush's executive order allowing non-citizen soldiers to obtain expedited naturalization benefits, Escalante -- an admitted, two-time lawbreaker -- will be rewarded with American citizenship. Army officials at Fort Stewart, Ga., have promised to actively assist Escalante in securing legal status.
An estimated 10,000 non-citizens in uniform have now applied for fast-track citizenship. The pander bears at the Pentagon have no idea how many are illegal aliens who used fake papers to enlist. Be all that you can be, be whoever you say you want to be, and an Army paycheck is yours.
Isn't there a federal law against knowingly hiring illegal aliens? Why, yes, there is. United States Code, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, Section 1324(a) states unambiguously: "It is unlawful for a person or other entity to hire, or to recruit . . . for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien." The same section of the law also makes clear that any person "knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law" who "harbors . . . such alien in any place" shall be "fined" or "imprisoned."
And, hey, isn't there something in the U.S. Military Oath of Office mandating that all personnel inducted in the armed forces respect our laws? Why, yes, there is. U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 31, Section 502 requires inductees to swear an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." The military oath also requires enlistees to abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which, under Subchapter X, Article 83, makes fraudulent enlistment by any person who "procures his own enlistment or appointment in the armed forces by knowingly false representation" punishable by court-martial.