By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Nov. 12, 2014: As the U.S. paused to honor military veterans on Tuesday, Nov. 11th, lost in the tribute was the fact that many veterans and current active duty force members of the U.S. military are immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America.
NAN research of Department of Defense data show that a large number of current active duty members of the military are from Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Overall, of all the 65,000 immigrant members of the armed forces – both naturalized U.S. citizens and non-citizens or green card holders – migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean constituted some 38.7 percent.
Some 9.5 percent are from Mexico while 4.7 percent are from Jamaica and 2.5 percent are from the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, 608,000 veterans, or 3 percent of the living U.S. military veteran population in the United States, are foreign-born.
Mexicans account for 7 percent or over 80,000 of these veterans according to U.S. Census data and Jamaican veterans are close to 20,000 or 3.1 percent. There are also over 15,000 Cuban-born U.S. military veterans, the Census reported as of 2011.
No information is, however, available on the number of current service members who are U.S.-born children of immigrants, the Center for Progress added. However, 9 percent of all living military veterans are U.S.-born children with at least one immigrant parent.
Famous veterans who are U.S.-born children of immigrants include Jamaican-American retired four-star general in the U.S. Army and former secretary of state Colin Powell. Combined, veterans who are immigrants or children of immigrants account for 12 percent of the total veteran population.
Many immigrant veterans have also chosen to become U.S. Citizens. According to statistics released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 89,095 members of the military became U.S. citizens from October 1, 2001 to May 31, 2013. In addition, 1,898 spouses of members of the military became citizens from Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 through the first eight months of FY 2013, and 76 children of members of the military became citizens from FY 2009 through the first eight months of FY 2013.