Saint Kitts
This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Join the military, become a citizen: Uncle Sam wants you and vous and tu

WASHINGTON (AP)

When Esmita Spudes Bidari was a young girl in Nepal, she dreamed of being in the military, but that wasn’t a real option in her country.

Last week, she raised her right hand and took the oath to join the US Army Reserves, thanks in part to a recruiter in Dallas who also is Nepalese and reached out to her through an online group.

Bidari, who heads to basic training in August, is just the latest in a growing number of legal migrants enlisting in the US military as it more aggressively seeks out immigrants, offering a fast track to citizenship to those who sign up.

Struggling to overcome recruiting shortfalls, the Army and the Air Force have bolstered their marketing to entice legal residents to enlist, putting out pamphlets, working social media and broadening their outreach, particularly in inner cities. One key element is the use of recruiters with similar backgrounds to these potential recruits.

“It is one thing to hear about the military from locals here, but it is something else when it’s from your fellow brother, from the country you’re from,” said Bidari, who was contacted by Army Staff Sergeant Kalden Lama, the Dallas recruiter, on a Facebook group that helps Nepalese people in America connect with one another. “That brother was in the group and he was recruiting and he told me about the military.”

The military has had success in recruiting legal immigrants, particularly among those seeking a job, education benefits and training, as well as a quick route to becoming an American citizen. But they also require additional security screening and more help filling out forms, particularly those who are less proficient in English.

NOT MEET RECRUITING GOALS
Both the Army and the Air Force say they will not meet their recruiting goals this year, and the Navy also expects to fall short. Pulling more from the legal immigrant population may not provide large numbers, but any small boosts will help. The Marine Corp is the only service on pace to meet its goal.

“We have large populations of legal US residents who are exceptionally patriotic, they’re exceptionally grateful for the opportunities that this country has provided,” said Air Force Major General Ed Thomas, head of the service’s recruiting command.

The biggest challenges have been identifying geographic pockets of immigrant populations, finding ways to reach them, and helping any of those interested navigate the complex military recruiting applications and procedures.

Last October, the Army re-established a programme for legal permanent residents to apply for accelerated naturalisation once they get to basic training. Recruiters began to reach out on social media, using short videos in various languages to target the top 10 countries that recruits had come from during the previous year.

The Air Force effort began this year, and the first group of 14 graduated from basic training and were sworn in as new citizens in April. They included recruits from Cameroon, Jamaica, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia and South Africa. As of mid-May, there were about 100 in basic training who had begun the citizenship process and about 40 who had completed it.

Thomas said the programme required changes to Air Force policy, coordination with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and a careful screening process to ensure there are no security risks.

Under the new programme, recruits are quickly enrolled in the citizenship system and when they start basic training, an expedited process kicks off, including all required paperwork and testing. By the time Air Force recruits finish their seven weeks of training, the process is complete and they are sworn in as American citizens.

“As a little girl, looking at the soldiers, I always had admiration for them,” said Bidari, recalling British troops in Nepal. “When I was able to take that oath … I don’t think I have words to really explain how I was feeling. When they said, ‘Welcome, future soldier,’ I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is happening.'”