Jewish World Review April 8, 2003 / 6 Nisan, 5763

Raoul Lowery Contreras

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Consumer Reports

Two Americans and an Aztec warrior | Before I became a radio talk show host and television news commentator, I was a talk show guest. Once, while on a top rated talk show, the show host blithely insulted me with a question "super Americans" always ask of people born outside the United States but, of course, forget to ask the Timothy McVeighs of the country.

It is a question no one asks of Irish or Italian or British or Canadian Americans. It seems the question is reserved for Hispanics and people who might have some affinity for Israel.

"If Mexico (the country of my birth) and the United States were fighting each other in a war, which side would you be on," he smugly asked. He didn't realize that such a question was and is an insult to me and thousands like me who have served and do serve in the American armed forces.

Among people like this, we find a commonality of views about Hispanic immigrants and their progeny, illegal aliens from Mexico and other points south--they hate them. They hate each and every one of them. They also have another commonality, few, if any, of them have ever served in the United States armed forces.

One of their shared views is that illegals (and all Hispanic immigrants) come to America to suck off the public trough; to suck up welfare; to steal jobs, and to otherwise simply live off the fat of the land. Why, they are the first to jump on the fact that Hispanics are "underrepresented" in the armed forces they never served in.

In a recent report, the Pew Hispanic Center reported that 9.5% of our armed forces is Hispanic. The 2000 Census concluded that 13% of the U.S. population is Hispanic. Thus, critics howl, Hispanics aren't carrying their own weight.

That is not true. First, a huge number of Hispanics are less than 18 years old, thus, the percentage of the general population that military age Hispanics comprise is far lower than 13%. Moreover, over half are women. Secondly, Hispanics comprise a huge percentage of the armed forces that are defined as "combat arms," AKA fighting men.

In fact, Hispanics are 17.7 percent of the personnel who most directly handle weapons, according to Pew Hispanic report based on 2001 Department of Defense statistics. Hispanics make up 14 percent of the Marine Corps, 10.5 percent of the Navy, 9.7 percent of the Army and 5.6 percent of the Air Force. Subtracting out the Air Force and Navy, where few people other than pilots have hands on weapons, the 17.7 percentage mentioned in the report grows to something on the order of 25%.

These statistics and presence have been brought home to America by the deaths of three young men, all United States Marines, all in Iraq, all foreign-born Hispanic immigrants.

Jesus Suarez del Solar was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and was brought as a child to the United States. He was legally immigrated. Jose Angel Garibay was born in Mexico and brought her, legally, as a baby. Then, there was Guatemala-born Jose Antonio Gutierrez.

Gutierrez came to the United States, an orphan who lived on the streets of Guatemala City, by way of Mexico, by hitchhiking rides and riding Mexican freight trains headed north for almost two years. He came to the United States, alone, illegally, at 16, with no English, no family, no friends, hunted by the Border Patrol and "la migra." Helped by Anglo Los Angeles social workers, Gutierez found himself in a Hispanic foster family that took him in as a son and changed his life forever. They found a way to make him legal, to finish high school, to enroll in college and, then, to proudly watch him become a United States Marine.

It is said that he joined the Marines to give thanks to the United States of America for what it had permitted him to do, to become a solid contributing human being.

These three immigrant men died for us, regardless of whether or not we support the Iraq war. They died in combat, they died as Americans. The "green card" father of Suarez del Solar told us his son was an Aztec warrior.

Marines Garibay and Gutierrez may have died as "green card" immigrants, but they are being buried as American citizens, as United States Marines who gave their lives for this country, not Mexico, not Guatemala. They made the ultimate American sacrifice.

Compare that to vehement critics of immigrants, legal and illegal, who bravely give out interviews about how they are protecting America from hordes of immigrants and those dirty illegal aliens. Especially illegal immigrant ones like Jose Antonio Gutierrez, United States Marine, born a Guatemalan in1977; died an American in Iraq in 2003.

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JWR contributor Raoul Lowery Contreras is a columnist, radio talk-show host, and author of "The New American Majority, Hispanics, Republicans & George W. Bush" and "A Hispanic view: American politics and the politics of immigration." Comment by clicking here.

03/28/03: I'm a 'smirking Nazi'
03/24/03: Excelling at friction
03/17/03: Bush-the-warmonger
03/07/03: War is the only option left to the civilized world
02/18/03: Protestors, twits and The New World Order
02/12/03: Hey, Gary Hart: Living on knees is wrong
02/05/03: Advise and consent by smear
01/14/03: "Stabbed in the Back by Friends"
01/07/03: Minorities will be the first to die in Bush's "oil wars"?

© 2003, Raoul Lowery Contreras