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Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by Malila: 6:46am On May 07, 2009
[size=16pt]US Army extends immigrant recruiting[/size]
Pilot program seeks to boost the ranks of language and healthcare specialists by offering citizenship.

By Alexandra Zavis and Andrew Becker
May 4, 2009

The lanky 19-year-old from South Korea has lived in the Southland since he was 9 years old. He is as comfortable speaking English as his native Korean. And he desperately wants to join the Army.

Late last week, the teenager walked into a recruiting office in an Eagle Rock mall wearing a pendant shaped like a dog tag around his neck. Until recently, local recruiters would have had to turn him away. His student visa would not have qualified him to enlist. Only citizens or permanent residents who carry green cards were eligible to serve.

But starting today, 10 Los Angeles-area Army recruiting offices will begin taking applications from some foreigners who are here on temporary visas or who have been granted asylum.

In all, the pilot program, which was launched in New York in February, seeks to enlist 1,000 military recruits with special language and medical skills, most of whom will join the Army. Response to the program has exceeded expectations, drawing applications from more than 7,000 people around the country, many of them highly educated, defense officials said.

Those who are accepted will get an expedited path to citizenship in return for their service. "Ever since I entered high school, I was waiting for this opportunity," Jason, the 19-year-old aspiring soldier, told recruiters as they helped him prepare documents to submit today. "As soon as it came, I just jumped."

The Army requested that applicants' full names not be used because, in some cases, it could put them or family members at risk in their home countries.

Although the Army has been meeting or exceeding its recruiting goals, defense officials say there is a shortage of soldiers with medical, foreign language and cultural abilities needed in the war on terror and peacekeeping efforts around the world.

"What we're looking for are critical, vital skills," said Naomi Verdugo, assistant deputy for recruiting in the office of the assistant secretary of the Army.

The Army hopes to enlist 333 healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses and others. It is also looking for 557 people with any of 35 languages, [size=14pt]including Arabic and Yoruba, spoken in West Africa.[/size] Spanish is not on the list. An additional 110 slots are earmarked for other services, which have not yet started taking applications for the program.

Although the effort is limited in scope, it has raised concerns among some veterans groups and advocates for tighter immigration controls. They question whether the policy shift could pave the way for large numbers of foreigners, including ones who might have entered the U.S. illegally, to join the armed services.

"By aggressively recruiting foreigners abroad, or illegal immigrants who could use such a program to get legalized, we could easily create a situation where the Pentagon comes to rely on cheap foreign labor," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

"That's not where we are now. . . . But we always need to be careful that we don't start going down a steep, slippery slope."

Defense officials emphasize that the program is only open to foreigners who have lived legally in the U.S. for at least two years, including students, some professionals and refugees.

Those who enlist are required to meet the same physical and conduct standards as other recruits and exceed the educational standards. They are also vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and they will not be granted waivers for any criminal offenses.

Foreign-born residents have a long history in the U.S. armed forces.

Under a wartime statute invoked in 2002, those who serve can apply for citizenship on the first day of active duty. Naturalization fees are waived. About 29,000 people with green cards are in the military and about 8,000 enlist each year, according to Pentagon figures.

Recruiters have already signed up 105 people with targeted languages and two medical professionals under the new program.

More than 60% of those enlisting under the pilot program have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with roughly 7% of those joining the Army through regular channels.

Their average score on a required math and verbal aptitude test is 79 out of a possible 99 points. That's compared with 62 for the average citizen or permanent resident who enlisted in the Army in the 12 months ending in September.

As word of the New York pilot program spread, many people traveled across the country to apply.

The 107 enlisted so far include 13 California residents, officials said. Less than half came from the New York area, including New Jersey.

Jason was among those who traveled to New York. But he arrived so tired after an overnight flight that he failed to score the minimum 50 points on a sample aptitude test.

By extending the program to Los Angeles, Army officials hope to make it easier for applicants on the West Coast to be considered and to ease the pressure on New York recruiters.

They also want to reach a broader range of language experts. So far, most of the recruits have been Korean, Indian and Chinese language speakers. The Army needs more people with languages used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, among others. Only four of the recruits enlisted as Arabic speakers, one speaks Urdu and one speaks Punjabi.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Cannon, who commands the recruiting station where Jason is applying, is pleased to be able to sign up more aspiring Americans. The policy restricting applications to people with green cards has been a source of frustration to local recruiters, who have struggled for years to find qualified applicants in a city with many immigrants, especially when the country is at war.

Cannon said his office had been getting calls about the new program for months. For most of the callers, the biggest draw is the chance to become citizens in as little as six months, he said. The normal naturalization process can take five to 15 years.

To retain their citizenship, participants must honorably complete at least five years of service.

When Jason heard he could apply closer to home, he headed straight over. This time he scored a respectable 67 on the sample aptitude test.

After 10 years of living with the uncertainty of temporary visas, he too is hoping to finally become an American.

His mother, who raised two children alone, never bothered to apply for green cards for the family, so now he faces the possibility of being summoned back to South Korea for mandatory military service.

Jason is also looking for a way to complete his studies at Pasadena City College.

His mother's grocery store is struggling, so he had to defer for two semesters after his first year to help keep the business going. Although his mother worries that Jason could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, he will not be dissuaded.

"I would have to go to the army in Korea anyway, so let's make it count for something," he said. "A new life. A new beginning."

alexandra.zavis@latimes.com

abecker@cironline.org

This story was reported and written in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, a nonprofit news organization. Andrew Becker is a CIR staff reporter. Alexandra Zavis is a Times staff writer.

Source : http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-immigrant-recruits4-2009may04,0,5078748,full.story
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by alaanu(m): 11:23am On May 07, 2009
Never. To join the US Army and wait till five years to retain my naturalised status when before then one would have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran or other unsettled countries.
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by alaanu(m): 11:24am On May 07, 2009
Never. To join the US Army and wait till five years to retain my naturalised status when before then one would have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran or other unsettled countries.
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by biina: 4:44am On May 08, 2009
I 've never understood why one would be willing to die for the country of another undecided embarassed cry
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by deor03(m): 8:52am On May 08, 2009
biina:

I 've never understood why one would be willing to die for the country of another undecided embarassed cry


Green card grin grin
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by tkb417(m): 4:28pm On May 08, 2009
join army shocked shocked shocked
what if they send me to Iraq?

why not the Police?
Just wondering?
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by dejiwumi: 10:17pm On May 16, 2009
i think is an opportunity for most of our jobless nigerians there.
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by DanWaziri(m): 11:02pm On May 17, 2009
Why would they need Yoruba speakers? Last I checked this "War on Terror" is concerned with Al qaeda and them, which would mean in Nigeria, Hausa is more logical. Abi Fatai and Lanre don join axis of evil abi na MEND?
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by ciscostaz: 8:42pm On May 28, 2009
@topic

Ever heard of the "unmanned" Planes?

Yes, the Americans love their people so much that each marine killed by the terrorist bullet is a big problem for their people and that is why they have unmanned planes which they usually deploy during wars. So that is why they are looking for the 'others - non americans' to do the fighting for them. Americans can not afford any more death again at the war front. its causing them a lot in terms of cash and acceptance.

Let me tell you, as soon as you join them, its straight to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan etc to go and shed your own blood for their country.

Imagine, you think they value your life, no no no. They only want you to die in place of their own people.

A word is enough for the wise. Visa lottery by fire by fire
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by owopepper(m): 2:37pm On May 29, 2009
abeg if una know the site when dem dey apply let me know cause me sef wan join.
abeg mail me the address for my box or text my phone

owopepper@yahoo.com
Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by bidemi12(m): 2:45am On Jul 24, 2009
grin shows how much we need enlightenment in Nigeria. Only a fool will come to yankee and not join the army immediately if he is within the age limit. Do you know what most immigrants do here when they come? well let me itemise for you,

1) wait 2 months for green card and social security
2) start applying for jobs, e.g security, cna, warehouse worker, waiter, and the very popular taxi driving, which is very lucrative.
3) Go to Nigeria in 2 years and do local champion and flex for like a month.
4) continue your job until 5 years are up then apply for citizenship. meanwhile they have not aqcuired any skill or education whatsoever.

while in the army,

1) you choose the job you will do in the army. It does not matter what job, they will train you. if you score over 50 in the asvab exam you are guaranteed almost any job e.g engineer. aircraft engineer, mechanic, pastor, communications, computer networking etc. you name they will train you. And i'm talking masters degree level training. If na fight you wan fight na you go choose. Na only marine no de choose. once you sign up for the marines you are guaranteed war front. thats why there are no Nigerians in the marines.

2) you get almost 120k for education, and that is in dollars. Which means apart from the training they will give you, they will still send you to college.

3) Immediately you sign up for the army, you start processing your citizenship and get it in 8 months instead of 5 years.

4) people in the army are praying that they send them to Iraq or afganistan. Do you know how much you get in bonus everyday for being there?

5) in the army or when you leave the army you are guaranteed respect till the day you die. When looking for a job they will pick you first before any other person born there or not. Any form you are filling for a job they will ask if you have ever served.

6) God forbid I die when in the army, be it in Iraq or crossing the street in texas my family will get 450k…and that is in dollars. In Nigeria wetin you go get?

So do I need to elaborate more? After my service I will still go back to Nigeria and get the best jobs in town cause of the education I got in the army. Every thing na planning. The reason why most people from Nigeria bad mouth the army is because they cannot pass the entrance exam. Na hard exm. Almost all the people I recommended did not get more the 10 over 100….can you imagine?

1 Like

Re: Yoruba Speaking Students Living In America Welcome To Join Us Army by canuck(m): 4:13pm On Jul 31, 2009
@ bidemi12

Good insights.

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