Another day, another poll on immigration reform… and one which probably proves what Allahpundit was saying yesterday regarding the need to examine how the questions are phrased. As was demonstrated, you can get a (bare) majority of people to support some form of broad immigration reform (amnesty) if you offer them a choice between mass deportation and a path to citizenship for those illegals who “have jobs.” Rasmussen has a new set of numbers which flip parts of the previous poll on its head while opening up a whole new can of worms.

Voters continue to put tougher border control well ahead of creating a pathway to citizenship for most illegal immigrants, but they‘re all for citizenship for children brought here illegally who are succeeding in America. Most also see citizenship as an effective recruiting tool for the military.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 80% of Likely U.S. Voters believe a child who is brought here illegally but later earns a college degree or serves honorably in the military should be given a chance to obtain U.S. citizenship. Just 10% disagree, while 10% are not sure.

First of all, their phrasing of the question regarding border security vs a path to citizenship is clearly different. And American respondents answered differently in kind, finding a secure border preferable to a gift to those living here illegally. But it’s the second question which was even more interesting. There is clearly a more sympathetic tone across the nation for offering some citizenship advantages to those who have managed to somehow earn it in our collective opinions. But how do they merit this generosity? 80% – which is a huge margin – are in favor if the illegal immigrant has either “earned a college degree” or served our nation in uniform.

Why would you group those two together? It seems to me that if there are to be any head of the line privileges being handed out, they would be far more likely to go to those who have taken the oath, put on the uniform, taken up arms and served a tour in combat defending the nation. Compare that to those who were living here illegally, received possible scholarships or grants and blended in at college with the children of citizens to obtain a degree and a pathway to a top notch job. I’d guess that the former would be far, far more popular in terms of special treatment than the latter. Let’s split those two groups out and run the poll.

And finally, how is the process working for immigrants to get into the military in the first place? Granted, once they are in and have served the nation honorably on the field of battle, even I find myself thinking… yeah.. I can see putting them up toward the head of the line. I’d be shocked if many people wouldn’t give this group a bit more credit than any other subset of those seeking citizenship. But aren’t we screening our applicants to join the military a bit more closely than that and finding which ones are completely outside the system? You can be rejected for all sorts of criminal convictions before being allowed on the bus to boot camp. Are we just not checking closely enough or is there some sort of loophole to allow illegals to join? It would appear that there is not.

A non-citizen must meet certain requirements to be eligible to join the military. The must have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (stamped I-94 or I-551 Green card/INS Form 1-551) as well as a bona fide residence established with an established record of the U.S. as their home. If the non-citizens comes from countries with a reputation of hostility towards the U.S, they may require a waiver. The federal government cannot petition on behalf of an illegal immigrant so that they can obtain legal status and be able to enlist in the military. In order for an immigrant to join the United States military, they must first go through the immigration process of the USCIS (previously known as the INS) and then begin the enlisting process. Another requirement is that the Green Card and/or visa of the immigrant desiring to join the military must be valid for the entire period of their enlistment. Undocumented immigrants may not enlist in the U.S. military.

So if an illegal immigrant gets into the military, they must have done so surreptitiously and in violation of the law. If we were only talking about men and women with legal green card status joining and perhaps getting a bump up toward the head of the line for full citizenship, I’m pretty much in favor of it. If you were already in the legal pipeline and made that sort of sacrifice, it’s worth giving you some benefit on the back end. But if you lied about your status to join and were actually in the country illegally, then you were committing yet another crime (fraud?) when you signed up to enlist. I’m not seeing how this gives you a pass to a green card.

But perhaps I’m wrong here. What do you think? If they join and serve honorably, should they just get a green card by default?