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25 May, 2010 22:35

Militarization of US immigrant rights movement dangerous

As the Latino population grows into America's largest minority, the community is being targeted by the US military as a new and steady source of recruits.

 "Yo Soy el Army: America's New Military Caste" is a documentary film by Marco Amador that looks at the militarization of the immigration debate in America.

A study by Rand in 2009 found that Latinos were underrepresented in the US military. This led to changes in military recruitment, specifically the adjusting of standards and testing requirements. During this reevaluation, the military decided to pursue new ways to target the Latino community. One of these was offering citizenship through military service.

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act ), which gives undocumented students the opportunity to acquire citizenship through college, also has a substantial military component.

For us, that’s a huge problem. Mainly because in the invasion in 2003 in Iraq, 20 percent of the casualties in the invasion were Latino,” said Amador.

Latinos in the military are being placed on the front lines in transportation and infantry positions that are often the most dangerous roles in the military. Non-citizens in the military are also restricted to which jobs they can hold, keeping them in lower ranking and dangerous positions and preventing them from moving up the ladder of military rank

This is what the US military has always done. This is nothing new. They use the Latino community or the poor working class community in this country as their cannon fodder,” said Amador.

Programs designed to award US citizenship for military service are new, however. These programs allow non-citizens to join the military and achieve citizenship within three weeks after completing boot camp, but it is not guaranteed. If you leave the military in under five years or with a dishonorable discharge, your citizenship can be taken away. 

It’s a very dangerous thing when we talk about marrying the immigrant rights movement that’s based on equality, that’s based on community coming up and acquiring their rights in this country and marrying that to military service and saying that we basically have to go and die, we have to go and kill to become citizens of this country,” said Amador.

Many immigrants seeking citizenship through military service receive their citizenship posthumously.

The only for sure way of gaining citizenship through military service in the United States armed Services is to die,” said Amador.