The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Russian roulette for citizenship

Sep 12, 2005

Since the Iraq war began in March 2003, about 60 immigrants have been granted "posthumous citizenship."

These are the ultimate losers in a deadly Russian roulette game that the U.S. government has been offering to poor immigrants: join the military and go to war, and we'll give you citizenship!

In July 2002, Bush, preparing for the invasion of Iraq, issued an executive order easing citizenship requirements. Immigrants whose legal status would have barred them from citizenship could get it if they volunteered to serve in the U.S. armed forces in a combat zone. Since then, about 20,000 immigrant soldiers have become U.S. citizens.

It is not known how many of these immigrants were undocumented – obviously, no one will declare themselves as "illegal" when they sign up for the military. But the government turns a blind eye when it comes to sending people off to war. And since people who are in the U. S. legally can wait a few years to get citizenship rather than risking their lives in a war, many, if not most, of the immigrants who enlisted probably didn't have legal status.

Every year, millions of people walk across the U.S.-Mexican border in hopes of escaping dire poverty. Many hundreds of them die of exposure to the scorching heat of the desert. Last year in Arizona alone, for example, the Border Patrol reported finding the bodies of 201 men, women and children. How many more aren't ever found in the vast reaches of the desert? In fact, the government tolerates – and therefore encourages – this traffic because it creates a cheap labor force for U.S. business.

Whether they serve as a cheap labor force or cannon-fodder, whether they die crossing the border in Arizona or patrolling streets in Baghdad, these immigrants are victims of government policies that have only one purpose: to maximize the profits and power of American big business.