by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – Since the war in Iraq, US army recruiters have been having a tough time attracting new soldiers.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Palacios admitted he gets a lot of negativity when he tries to recruit teens into the army. In Daly City, however, US Army recruiters have met a 98 percent goal of signing new soldiers.Filipino immigrants make up almost one-third of Daly City’s population, the largest concentration in the US.
Immigrants are attractive targets for recruiters because they are often “underemployed,” Sgt. Brian Knott said. “Immigrant recruits are often legal residents with degrees who are underemployed — we offer them to be an accountant when they are washing dishes in McDonald’s.”
Newspapers in the Bay Area reported recently that the US Army office has recruited 25 locals in Daly City since October at what is considered the top recruiting station in Northern California.
Tomas Jimenez, an assistant professor of sociology at UC San Diego conducting research on immigrants in the military, said the benefits from the Army. “The military is interested in immigrants because they have been known to make great recruits,” Jimenez said. He also said immigrants want to serve a foreign country to gain respect and assimilate into the new society.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Palacios, who joined the US Army immediately after emigrating from the Philippines in 1992, said the majority of his recruits are Filipino immigrants. Of the 62 locals recruited to the Army last year from north Peninsula cities, two-thirds were Asians, while Hispanics made up 17 percent, according to data compiled by the National Priorities Project, a research group that studies military trends. Most of the recruits, according to the data, came from Daly City. In San Mateo County, 39 percent of recruits in 2007 were Asian, while nationally, they made up only 3 percent.
For Myke Raymundo, a 20-year-old immigrant from the Philippines who was recruited in Daly City, entering the military is a great way to start a life in the United States. “It’s a win-win situation — it’s a chance for me to do all the things I want at the same time — work, study and get experience,” Raymundo said.
Maybe one attractive motivation for the Filipinos being recruited in the Daly City recruiting office is the massive poster displayed on the main wall – $50,000 in benefits for US Army soldiers. Considering that many Pinoys in Daly City earn just a fraction of that, the offer is truly enticing indeed!