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Monday, September 11, 2006 

The Green Card Draft

Funding across the nation for public education, day care, after-school programs, and job training have been severely cut because of Dudya’s thirst for war. Moreover, as all this is happening, Congress continues to throw billions of dollars into the military budget.

But what happens when the US decides to participate in too many international conflicts and commitments? The outcome, there are too few soldiers.

What happens next, you wind up having people like CO Republican candidate Rick O'Donnell, who I wrote about wanting to have a national service corp. draft for men. Or someone like Edward Bernard Glick (via Jeffersonian Democrat at Booman Tribune), who recently wrote an op-ed article in the Christian Science Monitor, advocating for the reinstatement of the military draft.
That's why it's time to reinstate the draft. A draft would do more than just harness the energy and idealism of the nation's youth to meet the military's unmet personnel needs. It would also tap more of the resources of the nation's women, heeding their demands for more gender equality by making their obligations more consonant with their rights.
The difference between Dr. Glick's, professor emeritus at Temple University in Philadelphia, proposal from O'Donnell's, Dr. Glick draft would include women, some flexibility for conscientious objectors, and he considered it "fairer," whatever that means.
It would give the federal government more flexibility in dealing with conscientious objectors. And it would be fairer to African-Americans and other minorities, who might stop viewing military service as just another job choice.
During a time of war, the US Military has a long history of targeting people who happen to come from working class families and areas with a large amount of minorities, both urban and rural - otherwise known as a "poverty draft." What makes today's "poverty draft" more devious, given our current economic state, it tends to feed off those who are concentrated in low-paying jobs without benefits or job security. These pour souls will become the few, the proud – the military's cannon fodder.
In the document "Strategic Partnership Plan for 2002-2007" written by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, the architects of what we might call "niche recruiting" state: "The Hispanic population is the fastest growing demographic in the United States and is projected to become 25% of the U.S. population by the year 2025." The Plan goes on to explain: "Priority areas [for recruitment] are designated primarily as the cross section of weak labor opportunities and college-age population as determined by both [the] general and Hispanic population." Not surprisingly, the top two recruiting batallion areas according to the Plan are Los Angeles and San Antonio.
Like lambs to the slaughter, many Hispanics and African Americans are eager to join the military with the promises of scholarships, good employment and visions of success and prosperity. Hoping they escape their economic prison, many come realize they have been bamboozled with empty words and false images – war really means death and suffering, not some X-box video game they thought it was.

As the military began preparing the invasion of Iraq, they already realized they were lacking the manpower needed for their invasion. There is no doubt the military’s Recruiting Command did not overlook the use of non-citizens to play a major role in their plan.

In July 2002, President Bush issued an executive order that would grant any non-naturalized soldiers serving honorably in the "war on terrorism" to speed up their process to citizenship once they have enlisted. Within 6 months, citizenship could be granted and they are once naturalized they can apply to have immediate families naturalized also.

According to Betsy Streisand, of the U.S. News & World Report, citizenship applications have gone up from 300 a month before Bush's order to 1,300 a month in 2003. In short, the only reason Hispanics enlist in the military, really has nothing to do with defending our national security or "honor", it is solely to increase their access to a decent education and a better life.

In a 2005 report by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA Inc), a federally funded research organization for the US Navy, analysts found immigrants were half as likely as their US-born counterparts to wash out before completing their enlistment. Based on their finding and recognizing the need to "help fill current gaps and meet future needs," they made several recommendations to tap into the "roughly 1.5 million potential non-citizen recruits"
To facilitate recruitment and retention of non-citizens in the military, the Department of Defense should:
  • Provide military recruiters with more information for non-citizen recruits by developing materials for applicants and new recruits that explain eligibility for expedited citizenship, the advantages of filing for citizenship while in the military, and the benefits of attaining citizenship.
  • Consider more structured, installation-based assistance that would help non-citizen service members and their dependents with the citizenship process.
  • Investigate, through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, whether more uniform treatment of noncitizens across the military services is needed.
As Congress debates to tighten immigration controls, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are serving in the armed forces. What is not generally known is that the Bush Junta, like the business community, has also been exploiting them. Some have even gone even further, Council on Foreign Relations neoconservative senior fellow Max Boot, and have proposed that the military, enlist and actively recruit foreigners from other countries.
The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal immigrants but also to illegal ones and, as important, to untold numbers of young men and women who are not here now but would like to come. No doubt many would be willing to serve for some set period in return for one of the world's most precious commodities -- U.S. citizenship. Open up recruiting stations from Budapest to Bangkok, Cape Town to Cairo, Montreal to Mexico City. Some might deride those who sign up as mercenaries, but these troops would have significantly different motives than the usual soldier of fortune. (Emphases mine)
As extreme as that might sound, when it comes to military service, many immigrates are willing to put their life on the line as a way to prove their loyalty to the US in hopes of obtaining the American Dream, equal treatment and acceptance in their new country. Realities the military and neo-cons like Max Boot are well aware of and are willing to exploit.

During the 2004 Presidential race, many people were talking about the possibility of reinstating the draft. But want many people don't realize, once America went to war and after Bush's executive order, the military, Congress and Citizenship and Immigration Services were already in the process of fast-tracking applications and making it easier for immigrants to become citizens.

When reports were coming in about the military recruitment was at a 30-year low, the military already started targeting Hispanics to meet their targeted numbers. One of the Pentagon goals is to double the amount of Hispanic enlistment through aggressive marketing.

Another tool aiding the military in recruiting Hispanic into the armed services is through the little known Hispanic Access Initiative Act (HAIA) of 1996, which allows ROTC recruiters to target Hispanic students at high school and Hispanic Serving Institutions, colleges with a large Hispanic student body. Recruiters are given access to high school students' addresses and phone numbers and are free to contact them at home, unless parents object. In 2004, the Army has added $10 million to its recruitment budget to advertise directly aimed at Hispanic audiences.

So how effective are their advertisement efforts in the recruiting process? As of Sept 9, 2006, everything is going as planned:
The Pentagon announced Friday that the Army met its recruiting goal for August, which a senior Army official said makes it virtually certain that the service will achieve its aim of signing up 80,000 new soldiers for the full recruiting year, which ends Sept. 30. Last year the Army fell short for the first time since 1999.
And recently, Emilio Gonzalez, director of the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced there are more than 40,000 immigrants currently serving in the military and more than 26,000 have already been naturalized since Sept. 11, 2001.

Their pipeline for a brighter future - a chance to become the next teachers, doctors, scientist, and other professionals - is soon to becoming nothing more but a pipe dream of empty hopes and promises. For them, there is no American Dream, only an American Nightmare.

The sadistic irony in all of this, as many immigrants risk life and limb entering this country for a better life, they are now being asked to risk life and limb to be played as pawns in a geopolitical chess game - all for the most "precious commodity" - US citizenship.

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  • From Tejas, United States
  • Un Xicano who is tired of the current status quo.
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