Friday, May 27, 2005

Latinos and War

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

The practice of recruiting noncitizens is not new.The armed forces have a long-standing tradition of recruiting soldiers of color and sending them off to the frontlines. During the Vietnam War, some 80,000 Latinos served, incurring about 19 percent of all casualties. At the time, however, Latinos made up only 4.5 percent of the total population.

Desperate economic situations in Mexico have left many young people prey to military recruiters. There rumors abound that if immigrants volunteer for U.S. military service they will get automatic eligibility for citizenship, causing eager young adults in Mexico to flood the American Embassy and consular offices with inquiries about joining the armed forces.


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