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Noncitizens in the Service

May 10, 2003

Re "Green-Card Soldiers Don't Pass Muster," by Mark Krikorian, Commentary, May 6: The San Patricio Battalion (St. Patrick's Battalion) did desert the U.S. Army during the invasion of Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1848. What Krikorian fails to mention is the reason for the battalion to have deserted. That war was assailed as not only part of the United States' plan of Manifest Destiny but a war of aggression precipitated by the annexation of Texas. It was also perceived by many congressmen as a "religious war," a Protestant country going to war against a Roman Catholic country. Abraham Lincoln, then serving in Congress, spoke out against it.

After the war, many of the Irish immigrants who deserted were captured and tried by military courts-martial; 18 were hanged, and yet many others were branded with the letter D for deserters.

As to whether green-card soldiers pass muster: I am an immigrant; I served as a green-card holder in both the U.S. Naval Air Reserve and then the U.S. Army. I spent three years in the Army, one in post-armistice Korea, and became a U.S. citizen in 1962. I think that I more than just "passed muster." I wonder if Krikorian served in the military.

Horacio R. Fonseca

Professor of History

and Athletics Director

Los Angeles City College

*

Krikorian's essay on immigrant soldiers seems to miss an important fact: The U.S. is largely a nation of immigrants. With the exception of Native Americans, all of us came from somewhere else. This is our strength and our heritage. To deny legal immigrants the opportunity to serve the country that took them in is to deny the most basic and fundamental principles this country was founded upon.

Krikorian's fear that defending the United States will become "work Americans won't do" is based on the faulty assumption that the armed forces are made up of folks who all do the same job and possess the same set of skills. Not only is that far from the case, many of these jobs and skills are not available to noncitizen enlistees because they cannot obtain the required security clearances until and unless they become naturalized.

Rick Damiani

Altadena

*

My father was a refugee from Nazi Germany who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 as a noncitizen. He served in the 29th Infantry Division, took part in the D-day invasion and was subsequently wounded in Normandy. By sheer happenstance, he became a citizen while in the service, but this was not mandatory, and I am sure he would have acquitted himself just as admirably if he had not become a citizen until after the war (or, indeed, if he had ultimately chosen not to become a citizen at all).

Krikorian's nativist, xenophobic views do a disservice to the many noncitizens who have served and who continue to serve with distinction in the armed forces.

John S. Koppel

Bethesda, Md.

*

Krikorian proposes lowering immigration levels. So do most white Americans. The real reason for whites wanting lower immigration levels is never mentioned. We don't want to be a racial minority.

What is wrong with saying that? Until we honestly say what our objections to immigration are, all the pro-immigration people will destroy any other argument. I have heard them all: the ecological argument, the economic argument, you name it. The fact is, economically America probably benefits from immigration. I served in Vietnam with two soldiers who were green-card holders. Nobody questioned their commitment.

No, the reason I oppose immigration is race. What people in the history of the world has ever volunteered to become a racial minority?

People want to live in a country where most of the people are like themselves. This is rooted in biology and is not going to change, no matter how much politically correct propaganda is heaped on people. If I am a bad guy for wanting my country to remain majority white, what are the people who are intent on making it majority nonwhite?

Mike Burns

Bakersfield

*

Krikorian asks: "Is it a good idea to allow noncitizens to enlist?" The use of noncitizens to fight one's wars is a tradition, for an empire: The ancient Roman auxiliaries were noncitizens who after completing their military service were awarded Roman citizenship. Offering noncitizens citizenship is better than hiring mercenaries.

Arch Miller

Arcadia

*

Krikorian doubted the allegiance and loyalty of the noncitizens. I wonder if the names of Benedict Arnold, Jonathan Pollard, Robert Hanssen, Edward Lee Howard, Aldrich Ames, Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, just to name a few, may help him to realize that we, the U.S. citizens, have our own share of traitors too.

John Quach

Walnut

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