What Our President-Elect Needs to Know
In an interview with CBS “60 Minutes” Donald Trump said we are getting the people who are criminal out of the country, “probably two million, it could be even three million.” Clearly, estimating 2-3 million being criminals out of 11 million of undocumented immigrants is an overkill typical for the campaign trail. Campaign over, I wish our new President would be aware of the fact that the overwhelming majority of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, are so eager to earn the US citizenship that their heroism and sacrifices on the battlefield often demonstrate it. Here’s an informative video illustration.
Immigrants love America. Let’s love them back!
Post-election days: cool November weekend is filled with heated conversations about the election results, wherever you go: Starbucks, farmers’ market, grocery shop, or friendly get-togethers—and it seems people just wouldn’t let it go. I don’t remember such polarization and bitterness even in 2008 when Mr. Obama was elected President. The most divisive topic is, of course, immigration—which echoes the Brexit and some European right-wing parties’ rhetoric banking on their supporters’ aversion to global migration.
The US has always been different, in that we were raised to be proud of our unique motto E pluribus unum (“Out of Many – One”). Instilled by the Founding Fathers, it’s mirroring the diverse US communities, serving as glue for all-American mentality. We are still a great nation, folks, and all we need is to stick to the basics that made us great. The name of the game today is Inclusion—and here’s a good example of it, to honor the recent Veterans Day.
Diversity as Backbone of Our Military
The US Military has been historically diverse – but their inclusiveness became a reality largely after WWII. It’s interesting to see how things stand there with respect to the immigrants in the uniform—at the time when certain politicians seeking the highest posts of our country cater to anti-immigrant/racist prejudices.
Today more than ever we need to know more about the important role that the foreign-born people play there. Because of diversity being its backbone, our Military mirrors the diverse US, embracing both native- and foreign-born Americans. Let’s look at the facts.
Immigrants have a proud tradition of serving in the Military and according to the official sources,
- Approximately 65,000 foreign-born US-Americans serve in the armed forces.
- They represent about 5 percent of all active-duty personnel.
- The navy has the highest number of foreign-born personnel – 8%.
- Over 11,000 foreign-born women are serving in the armed forces.
- The top two countries of origin for foreign-born military personnel are the Philippines and Mexico.
- For a bigger picture, see Figure 1, “Immigrants in the US Armed Forces by Region of Birth,” as of February 2008:
This is all good; however, Diversity alone isn’t functional without Inclusion, i.e., without fair appreciation of people who prove their devotion to the country putting their lives on the line.
Definitely, the foreign-born US service members on active duty deserve – and get – fair attitude, which comes in different forms. One of the most appreciated is getting the US citizenship, for instance:
- A July 2002 executive order made noncitizen members of the armed forces eligible for expedited U.S. citizenship.
- More than 37,250 immigrant service members have become U.S. citizens since September 2001.
- 111 military personnel killed in the line of duty since September 2001 have been granted posthumous citizenship.
The other form of showing appreciation to the thousands of immigrants in uniform is the Department of Defense supporting the DREAM Act and thus stating that the Military get strengthened by the foreign-born. Among the military leaders who support the DREAM Act is Colin Luther Powell, a second-generation immigrant, born in Harlem as the son of Jamaican immigrants. Colin Powell was the first and so far the only African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first of two consecutive black office-holders to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Powell also served as National Security Advisor and Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command. He led the way to Inclusion in the Military both during his service and in retirement.
Inclusive leadership makes our Military an Inclusion blueprint which enhances patriotism and whole-hearted devotion of men and women willing to sacrifice everything for our country.
Prominent Immigrants in the Military
These brief examples speak volumes of the Military embracing courageous immigrants:
- Among the immigrants promoted to the highest ranks of the U.S. military is General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; he came to the United States from Poland shortly after World War II.
- Alfred Rascon was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who won the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War and later became a U.S. citizen and eventually the Director of the Selective Service System.
3. According to CBS News, “The heroism and sacrifice of non-citizens was barely known — until Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez died in battle in Iraq. He came from Guatemala, and he came to the United States illegally. We can tell you how his story ended. He was killed in a tank battle in southern Iraq on March 21 2003.”
Coming from very diverse walks of life, they’ve been recognized as true US heroes.
How Are We, America?
Clearly, our diverse and inclusive Military mirror the US society at large. Let’s keep in mind that America’s diversity landscape, always uneven, has now brought us to the point where the nation faces sharp political confrontations. Today, inclusion should not be an empty word or lip service of over-zealous politically correct individuals. We need sustained efforts to grow it from within, in our souls, as part and parcel of us, the people of America.
This is how we are, America: United, We Stand!
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