tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera March 24, 2016 1:30am-2:01am EDT
expect this. here we are safe. >> reporter: here she also found an unexpected gift. she has adopted this boy, one of the many orphaned children in the displacement camps more news on our website. there it is, aljazeera.com aren't even citizens. no doubt this week's attacks in belgium will heat up the rhetoric on immigration in the united states. donald trump spopped almost immediately saying, quote, we have to have strong borders, we have to be very vigilant and careful who we allow into our country. some immigration analysts are already harping on the visa waiver program that lets immigrants into the united states with little scrutiny they say. thousands or millions of
unauthorized immigrants who overstay their visa illegally. it is the truth, immigration system is broken. they aren't leaving any time soon no matter what the republican front runner says during this presidential race. meanwhile, the be be democratic whowfwhite house applies band ao them. real comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in congress. but as the immigration debate blends in more with the national security debate at least in the minds of voters the u.s. armed forces are looking to immigrants whether or not they are authorized to be in this country to help fill the ranks of u.s. military services and the military wants to reward those illegals 5illegals by granting .
citizenship. what the u.s. government has done, especially in times of war. with duarte geraldino reports. diswawrduarte geraldino reports. >> reporter: dave tomlinson is an immigrant from be be south america. he just became an american three years since moving to new york city. >> how long has your mother lived there? >> 20 years. had a green card, i decided to join the army because i wanted to speed up the process a little bit. >> that process can take up to five years from when a foreign he obtains a green card. >> once i joined the army it came through in a few months. >> reporter: for years, the army had actively recruited foreign residents by fast
tracking their citizenship when they enlist. but in 2008 widened the pool of potential foreign recruits. more controversially, in 2015, president obama expanded the program, making it possible for people illegally entering the u.s. to join the armed forces, a fast track to american citizenship within months. it's about 4:30 in the monk and i'm two hours south of atlanta at forth beening ai benning air force. these are non-u.s. citizens in combat techniques. >> the program is called military assention vital to the american military. avne for short.
mavne legally expanded to include minors becoming adults in the u.s. once in training they are virtually indistinguishable to anyone else. needing skills needed to get into the army, be potential controversy , the u.s. army isn't releasing much about individual recruits except to say they have had thorough background checks. but not everybody has faith in those background checks. before mavne was expanded acknowledge demanding to know how account department of defense conduct a thorough background check of the candidate if the background of the individual is incomplete and no records to validate claims residents potentially exist? >> historically the armed force
he recruited anybody who was qualified. they didn't care about your immigration status. >> lawyer margaret stock was a lieutenant colonel in the u.s. army reserves when she created the mavne program eight years ago. >> i'm hoping to go back to the historically practice because the army needs well qualified people to enlist in the armed services. >> should not be a way for illegal immigrants to legalize their status. >> mark kerkorian. >> you really have no business being in the united states armed forces unless you are part of the united states population. you are a u.s. citizen. so even for legal immigrants there are limits and restriction is but it is permitted to them. for illegal immigrants it is not personalitied. they are barred from joining the
u.s. military and they should stay that way. >> the program concept came out of the attacks of september 11th, 2001. one of the things that became obvious after the attacks is the u.s. had a lot of intelligence information that possibly could have prevent ed these attacks but it wasn't translation. the immigration system was broken and dysfunctional. >> the u.s. army says most of the mavne enlistees speak key languages needed by the military, like korean, arabic, russian and chinese. >> you have a lot of internationals that you have actually seen and trained over here? >> yes, probably a couple dozen. in this class here we have two chinese guys who are from actual
china, chinese citizens and they're using the army to get american citizenship. >> to sedate roughly 500 people who entered the u.s. illegally have enlisted through mavne. a handful of them have already been naturalized. the army says it wants to expand to boost the number of enlistees. there is no congress of extending it. >> diswawrg joins m duarte geraldino joins me now. what a great story. you talked around them, we actually did not get to see any of these mavne enlistees. >> remember in the army, ali it's all about solidarity with your brother or sister now. the army didn't want to call 9 ou anybody out, they didn't want
this held against them as well, you came into this country illegally, how can you actually fight for them? so the army isn't releasing individual identities. >> even when these people are in traij their brothers and sisters in training are not aware? >> not a single one. >> notably spanish isn't one of the languages, chinese is, korean is, is this sort of indicative of what we call our pivot to asia? >> absolutely. if you look at the language breakdown of the folks who have been admit in the past two years, a full 80% are asian language speakers, chinese, bengali, all the languages that the army needs to fight wars in the middle east or far east. no spanish at aim. >> has the service changed its recruiting standards as a result
of citizenship? >> that is the fear. that program has the reputation of being the geniuses of the military. >> the military is recruiting people who have special skills. >> absolutely. expanding it to a group of folks who came here as undocumented children for example and may not have had opportunities to get them to a broint they would have interest. that is what some people say is pretty unbelievable. yet we have hundreds who have already gone through system. >> duarte geraldino, thank you for that. >> thank you. >> signing up illegal immigrants to fight for this country is risky. i'm going to talk to a critic, next.
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al jazeera america. >> i'm talking tonight about immigration, national security and a controversial third topic that ties them together. immigrants who join the armed forces to become american citizens. specifically, people who enter the u.s. an enlist. some military officials say it's a perfectly good way to recruit people with skills that american military needs. but the critics yo say it's a dangerous policy. mark kerkorian, you saw him in duarte's story. mark good to have you with us. >> thank you. >> as an immigrant to america first you need a visa or a sponsor in order to get a green card. then you hold that green card for a few years, you apply for citizenship. you don't think people who skip
these steps should be allowed to join the u.s. military in order to fast track their way to citizenship is that right? >> yes, certainly not, absolutely not. >> what do you think of the military's argument, that they say they're looking for skills that is difficult to get. >> this certain mavni program, it's only for 5,000 people this year who have not just the regular -- they don't just meet the regular requirements for joining the army. they have to have special skills like you said. most of them are either doctors, or they have some unusual language. they speak pashtun or belluci or something like this. the illegal immigrants who are thousand eligible for this program are only semi-illegal at this point. only deferred action amnesty,
they have deferred actions, social security numbers, they are not illegal annuallies, my concern is not this program but whether it's being used as kind of the tip of the iceberg to expand enlistment to illegal immigrants generally and that would be a real problem. >> explain that to me. you and i understand, you articulated this mavni to some degree, the military needs them and they expand them to people who are in the country illegally but still special skills. this is the military determining the skill set that it needs. how do you worry that it expands and lets in all sorts of other undocumented immigrants? >> because the people that have been pushing this ms. sto stockt came up with mavni and others have been arguing that this is
sort of the leading wedge, if this works, they should open enlistment to illegal immigrants more generally, saying, we can't find enough americans to fill our enlistment quotas, if there's not enough americans filling the ranks there is some other problems, we should not lower the standards. because if you're an illegal immigrant, and you want to get u.s. citizenship, you would serve in the military for free for room and board just because there was a agree card at the end of it. something an american young person doesn't need, because he's a citizen. the potential here -- >> you said something here rather than lowering the standards. i was grilling duarte and looking into it, there doesn't seem to be a lowering of standard for anybody admitto the
u.s. military regardless of mavni or a special program that allows undocumented immigrants into the army. i see your fear but we don't have evidence that there's been any lowering of standards to anybody admitted to the u.s. military. >> no no no. my point is permitting illegal immigrants to enlist is the lowering of standards. >> as margaret stock said in the piece, if you are in the military in the united states, historically the military has been a bit agnostic starting with lafayette. if the u.s. needs the -- >> that was a long time ago. >> that didn't happen regularly until the vietnam war. >> but the point is you didn't have to have for instance a high school degree to enlist anymore. now you do. you can't even get into the be military with a ged unless you score extra-high on the i.q. test they goif everyone enlisting. the military is a much, much
more selective organization now. it is harder to get into the army than it is to get into a lot of colleges, frankly. so the idea that today's army is comparable and the standards and practices are comparable to something we did in the '20s or the 1890s is irrelevant. it is not same problem not the same institution. >> if you could be assured, separate and apart from the organization, that there isn't any other lowering of standard other than the citizenship requirement would it bother you? if the military says nothing changes we just need more people? >> slum. because and -- slum. bsolutely. if you are a pentagon person and money is always tight, and you have found this pool of people who are willing to serve, basically, for free or you don't have to offer the extra inducements, educational
benefits and the kind of things that are offered, you're obviously going to go for that. and what happens is, this is inevitable, you have seen it in other occupations, civilian occupations, is that it will over time become dominated by immigrants. i mean it just has to be. the logic of it is inescapable. you'll end up foreignizing the military, just as we have done for farm work and landscaping and dishwashing. that didn't work well for the romans. we shouldn't be going down that path. >> but again it's not what the romans did or what the british did with the hessians, it is not having foreigners fight in our army, in exchange for service you are fast track then down the road for citizenship. there are people who want to be part of your country and you are granting them that. to make up legions of people who
are actually foreign and were never going to be roman citizens. >> they were very much wanting to be roman, attracting to attracted to that civilization. >> i'm happy with this conversation that's okay. >> see my point is even if we give them citizenship what you end up -- in other words this isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow. this is something that would be set in motion if we approach it this way. because there is essentially an unlimited number of people who want to come to the united states. young men. literally basically unlimited as far as the military is concerned. what you will do is make military service a job americans won't do. and that is extremely dangerous for a republic if, for no other reason, than when lawmakers decide whether to go to war, it's not that big a deal because it's mostly people who are foreigners or just newcomers that you would
be sending off to serve as cannon fodder. >> if we're not lowering the standard or the pay or changing the benefit structure why are you dissuading americans -- mavni wouldn't exist if those skills existed within the population. we wouldn't have to think about taking on be illegal immigrants. >> it's not what you do. what happens next year when congress and the pentagon are sort of wrestling over what they're going to do, it's like well you don't need as much money for pay and benefits because you've got these other people who are willing to work for same pay last year. so let's not have a raise this year or next year or next year or next year. and what you do is it turns into a job americans won't do. >> right. >> and for military that is extremely dangerous. >> mark good to talk to you,
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al jazeera america. >> we've been talking about immigrants joining the united states military and being rewarded with american citizenship. closer to home many local police departments require recruits to be full citizens before joining the force but now in the wake of white officers killing black teens, there is a push to making be officers look more like the citizenry they serve. here is mary snow. >> meet officer william. a 16 year veteran of the oakland, california police department. >> when i was 16, my family paid
money to fishermen to smuggle me out of vietnam. i was brought to the united states. when i was 21 years old, ten years after living in this country, i was given ajob as a police officer. by the city of oakland. >> officer oyen is emblematic of what officers say is needed to make a better police force, cops that accurately reflect the community they police. >> it is important in oakland to be part of the community. >> that was up from a department that was only 9% asian in 2000. >> we noh from the tenets of community policing that it's important for officers to represent the ethnic community. >> by failing
to diversify their ranks, many departments are looking to hire more immigrants. california for example, allows municipalities to hire police officers who are northern citizens with green cards. >> we encourage people with immigrant status to apply at the oakland police department. because it does give us that breadth of experience we are looking for. >> but other big city police departments we researched require officers to be full citizens including new york city, seattle, . >> he point out there are almost 25,000 noncitizens serving in the u.s. military, none of them he says are eligible to serve as police officers in most states because of their immigration status. >> right now immigrants who are here illegally can go to afghanistan and protect the united states of america overseas.
but in far more cities in the united states, they cannot come back and serve and protect their be citizens. that's out of whack if you think of it that way. >> there's a real danger he says to hire individuals from police departments from other countries. >> full belonging to the american community is not something that's required if you are going to be a representative, a legal armed badge-wearing representative of that community. >> reporter: but assistant chief paul figueroa think noncitizens have as much right to be policed than noncitizens. >> if i was thinking about going back home why would i put a uniform on and give my life for
people that live here and then only to not be committed to something? the logic in me doesn't follow for me. >> and for officer oyen, hiring immigrant cops whether they are citizens or noncitizens may be the key to bring police closer to the communities they serve. >> oftentimes there's a barrier between the police and the community. so trying to get a reflection of the community is always a positive thing to do, is allow both parties to open up and build a dialogue with each other and help improve relationship between the police department and the community. >> reporter: as cops around the nation struggle with a gross distrust of police, hiring sisters within their own immigrant communities, the big question should those immigrant cops also required to be immigrant citizens? >> that's our show for today,
i'm ali velshi. thank you for joining us. the news continues here on al jazeera. >> it was an historic moment, 88 years in the making. president obama speaking to the government and citizens of communist cuba on the island's capital city. the first sitting president to visit cuba since calvin coolidge, back in 1978. so with when all of the ceremonies, photo ops and