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Reply #66: the Pentagon and immigrants [View All]

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Two Americas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-30-08 03:42 AM
Response to Reply #58
66. the Pentagon and immigrants
Immigrants Could End up Fighting War in Iraq
by Rodolfo F. Acua

As war drags on, overzealous military recruiters are turning to Latinos for long-term solutions to the Pentagon's problems.

Of the 60,000 immigrants in the U.S. military, about half are non-U.S. citizens. More than 6,000 Marines are non-U.S. citizens, with the largest group -- 1,452 -- from Mexico. At least five Mexican-born soldiers have been killed in Iraq and several other Latinos have died, too.

Desperate economic situations in Mexico have left many young people prey to military recruiters. The rumors abound that if immigrants volunteer for U.S. military service, they will get automatic eligibility for U.S. citizenship. Recruiters have even crossed over into Mexico to look for young people who may have U.S. residency papers, according to a recent article in The Independent.

A Way Out of the Shadows for Immigrants?
U.S. Says: Become Cannon Fodder

The Dream Act

The difficulties in recruiting enough new soldiers into their military has led the U.S. rulers to expand their recruitment among oppressed peopleeven those who are in the U.S. illegally. One track the government is pursuing is to revive a provision of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (CIRB), which failed to pass the Senate in June 2007. The provision, the so-called Dream Act (or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), is mostly known for its offer to open up a path to legalization, and maybe even citizenship status, to undocumented immigrants who attend college and earn a two-year degree or finish two years toward a bachelors degree.

But there is a lesser known part of the Dream Actit offers the same possibility for legalization for undocumented immigrants who join the armed forces for at least two years and who have been living in the U.S. for at least six years prior to that. This legislation has now been attached to the defense bill in the Congress, which will be voted on soon. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a co-sponsor of the amendment, said it was appropriate to attach the Dream Act to the defense bill because this would address a very serious recruitment crisis that faces our military.

On Sunday, October 14, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial entitled A recruiters dream, which says: Serve in the military; get a leg up on citizenship. This same editorial says: The Army Times reports that military leaders in charge of recruiting and personnel policy called the measure very appealing.

In June, Durbin said, It turns out that many in the Department of Defense believe, as I do, that the Dream Act is an important part of making certain we have talented young men and women ready to serve in our military. The Dream Act has broad bipartisan support in Congress.


According to the Pentagon, there are now 35,000 non-citizens in the U.S. military, and about 8,000 join each year to try to take this promised path to citizenship. The government estimates that if the Dream Act were to be passed, there would be about 750,000 undocumented youth eligible to be recruited. (The Boston Globe, June 16, 2007)


On October 19, 2006, the Washington Post published an article by Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Michael OHanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who proposed such a plan. They wrote: Despite growing anti-Americanism, U.S. citizenship is still one of the worlds most precious commodities, so there should be no shortage of volunteers. Since proficiency in English would presumably be important for those joining the armed forces, we might focus on South Asia, anglophone Africa, and parts of Latin America, Europe and East Asia (the Philippines would be a natural recruiting ground) where English is common as a second language. These regions have more than 2 billion people, tens of millions of whom reach military age each year.

Noncitizen soldiers: the quandaries of foreign-born troops
By Patrik Jonsson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor


Stuck in the Iraqi desert, fighting a war for a country not yet his, US Army Sgt. Leopoldo Escartin and other troops at Camp Dogwood hung a bit of home outside their desert-tan tent: the tricolor Mexican flag.

Making up about 7 percent of America's active fighting force, immigrants with green cards - Mexicans the largest group among them - are risking their lives not just for advancement within the Army, but for a leg up on the road to US citizenship. As America celebrated its 229th year of independence this weekend, immigrants offered their own breed of patriotic sacrifice, and their numbers are rising even as the Army has struggled to meet recruiting goals.


Recognizing the growing importance of immigrants in an Army that has struggled to meet its recruiting goals, the government is hastening citizenship for those who serve in the Armed Forces long term. There were 28,000 immigrant soldiers five years ago; that number has climbed to 39,000 today, not counting the thousands of foreign contractors hired since 9/11. So far, 59 immigrant casualties have been granted posthumous citizenship - and a new rule allows their families to use the deceased as a sponsor for their own residency papers. Even illegal immigrants who enter the forces under false pretenses have a chance at legal residency if they see combat.

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