Immigrant ‘Convinces’ The Army
October 9, 2003
By Jose L. Llanes
The announcement by the U.S. Army that it will allow an undocumented
Mexican immigrant to stay within its ranks has created a national
The individual is 19-year-old Juan Escalante, who
enrolled in the army using a falsified green card that he had
for a moderate fee of $50.
For some, the case of Escalante presents
a double moral dilemma because laws in this country condemn not
only the employment
of undocumented immigrants, but also the falsification of legal
Such is the viewpoint of a New York Post reporter
who made a public outcry based on Escalante’s story and that
of the dozens of undocumented immigrants who were recently caught
working with false documentation in military installations
throughout the United States.
Currently, more than 10,000 non-citizen
soldiers, who are legal immigrants, have filed applications for
an expedited citizenship
process thanks to an executive order signed by President George
W. Bush. In an exception to the rule, Escalante will be included
in the lot.
Veteran Puerto Rican lawyer Joseph R. Erazo said
distinction must be made in these cases,” referring to
Escalante and any other military personnel engaged in combat.
who is both the father of a soldier based in Iraq and an advocate
of immigrant rights, said that there is a difference
between a soldier who enrolls to fight for this country and
risks his life, and an individual who violates the law to work.
The story of this country is full of heroes who falsified their
credentials so that they could fight, ” said the Boricua
[Puerto Rican] lawyer
Guillermo Chacon, vice-president of CAUSA
Salvadorian-American said, “The solution is to begin
an intensive effort to legalize all immigrants. “This
will guarantee not only the lives of those who came into this
country to work, but
also the security of the nation.”
Chacon is not a proponent
of immigrants seeing the army as an option for their future
and much less to gain legal status. “They
must think about it twice. There are many irresponsible decisions
being made in the war in Iraq. But on the other hand it is
ironic that a legalization process in New York with all of
the necessary documentation can take up to 39 months.”
Smulian, Director of Training and Legal Services of the Coalition
of Immigration of New York, said that Section 329
of Immigration Law has allowed for years that those persons
active in the Army can become citizens and that the same law
can be amended by the President as it was by President Bush.
“He did not create the law, but we think that not only immigrants
should benefit from such services but also their family members,” said
Immigrants’ rights advocates caution that the
case of Escalante is no more than an exception to the rule
not be thought of as a general rule. “The law says that
you must be a permanent resident,” said Michele Waslin
of the Consejo Nacional de la Raza.
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Translated from Spanish By Valeria Treves