UNDOCUMENTED, JAILED MIGRANT WORKERS
TOLD THEY MUST REGISTER FOR MILITARY DRAFT
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 13, 2004 12:00 AM
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, citing war and terrorism concerns, said Monday that he is ordering all undocumented immigrants currently in jail to register for the draft.
"My point is if you come here illegally and you are going to receive benefits from this great country, the United States of America, you should follow the law and register for the Selective Service. And if you get called up, you should fight for this country," Arpaio said.
There are about 500 undocumented immigrants housed in the county's jail system who have not complied with a 1980 federal law that requires all young men between 18 and 26 to register for the draft, regardless of their immigration status, Arpaio said. An additional 2,300 inmates, out of 8,700 total inmates, will also be ordered to register because they failed to do so earlier, Arpaio said. Arpaio will begin registering the inmates Wednesday at Tent City.
"I can't say that I've ever heard anything like this, but we do appreciate any effort toward compliance," said Dan Amon, a spokesman for the Selective Service System in Washington, D.C.
Arizona's compliance rate is about 83 percent, compared with 90 percent nationally, Amon said.
The country's draft ended 30 years ago and was replaced by an all-volunteer military. Although some members of Congress have proposed reinstating the draft, the Department of Defense recently concluded the draft was not needed to fight the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq, Amon said. Technically, Arpaio cannot force inmates to register because federal law exempts prison inmates from registering for the draft until after they are released, Amon said.
Nevertheless, Amon said, "I think your sheriff may be doing these individuals a favor because registering for the Selective Service is tied to a number of benefits including (citizenship). If they are illegals and they want to (legalize) their status, the first thing they would be asked is whether they registered for the Selective Service."
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox agreed, saying, "This could be a pathway to permanent residence."
Reach the reporter at daniel.gonzalez@ arizonarepubic.com or at (602) 444-8312.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]