Military data shows fewer foreign nationals are enlisting in the United States military, despite the promise of expedited citizenship.
The annual enlistee total fell nearly 20 percent from 2001-04, and non-citizens from countries like the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria and Germany are not enlisting as much as they used to, according to military data.
Military data shows the number of enlistees went from 11,829 to 9,477 last year, and according to a Department of Defense study, 3 percent, or 38,000, of the United States armed forces are not citizens.
Non-citizens hold a variety of positions, from top-secret clearance positions to cooks to front-line soldiers, said Gregory Becker, public affairs official for the Los Angeles Recruitment Battalion.
“I think overall, there is speculation that recruitment as a whole is down,” Becker said. “The numbers have dwindled down, and that is attributed to the Middle East.”
With enlistment numbers down, recruiters are increasing benefits, adding bonuses, and staffing some of the jobs with civilians so individuals in the armed forces may rotate their positions, Becker said.
In order to retain the number of soldiers or individuals in the armed forces, extra money is given to soldiers to prolong their service in the military, Becker said.
“They get added bonuses and extra dough to stay past 20 years,” Becker said.
The number of non-citizens joining the armed forces can be attributed to a number of factors, Becker said.
Non-citizens also receive the same benefits as American citizens in the military, including dental coverage, medical coverage and money for college, Becker said.
It is necessary for non-citizens to become Americans after serving in the military for eight years, he said.
While numbers show that recruitment is down, there are some individuals who do not possess green cards but are willing to enlist, said Sgt. Ben Rob, army recruiter in Los Angeles.
“We wish that there (were) other means to enlist non-citizens,” Rob said. “Individuals who do not have a green card or legal status want to enlist and wish they could.”
Right now, there is a general tendency not to join the military, and it is not just non-citizens who are not enlisting, said Enrique De La Cruz, CSUN Asian American studies professor.
The military is one option for individuals of a low socioeconomic status, since it can be a source of income, education, social advancement, and is normally attractive to those who are poor, De La Cruz said.
“I don’t think (fewer enlistments) are peculiar to a specific non-citizen,” De La Cruz said. “People are staying away from the war in general.”