Monday, August 23, 2010
PINOYS COME HOME FROM WAR AS AMERICANS
With American forces pulling out from Iraq, many immigrant soldiers are coming home with more than the feeling of accomplishment -- they would actually be “going home”.
Filipinos in the US Navy join comrades from a dozen other countries who will be sworn in as American citizens aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower this week in Norfolk, Virginia.
The Eisenhower itself is returning from a seven-month deployment in support of America’s wars overseas.
The Filipinos joined the navy shortly after arriving as immigrants in the US.
Immigrants usually wait an average of five years to establish residency before becoming eligible for naturalization.
However, after the Sept. 11 terror attacks the US allowed immigrants serving with the all-volunteer armed forces to become citizens much sooner.
The Filipinos are part of a group of 29 sailors from 13 countries deployed with the Eisenhower, the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher, the amphibious assault ships USS Kearsarge and Iwo Jima, or posted at the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk.
They used to work as salesmen and waiters, construction workers and private security guards before they joined the US Navy, a Defense Department statement revealed.
There are about 65,000 immigrants serving in the US military today, approximately one-third of them not yet American citizens.
According to the Migrant Policy Institute, nearly 23 percent of them or nearly 15,000 were born Filipinos, making the Philippines the top source of recruits for the US military among the immigrant communities.
A majority of the foreign-born servicemen are in the US Navy (nearly 27,000), followed by about 15,000 in the army, 13,000 in the airforce and 10,000 in the marines.