Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Selective Service System, which relies on civilian volunteers in the event of a national emergency, is reaching out to young undocumented men. Immigrant advocates are questioning the new directive.
SAN DIEGO According to U.S. law, a man must register with the Selective Service within 30 days of his 18th birthday. Yet only about 25 percent of American citizens are signed up, and no one knows how many undocumented people have done so.
Selective Service spokesperson Dan Amon said the agency has always struggled to get more undocumented men to sign up.
"That's always been a priority with us because there are low rates of compliance in areas where there might be a heavy concentration of Latinos, or Spanish-speaking people," said Amon.
But Amon couldn't give a reason for the current outreach campaign. He said, however, that the Selective Service Administration will not share any information about undocumented enlistees with immigration authorities like ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
This recent development is puzzling many immigrants and their lawyers around the Southwest, where Selective Service will start to get out the word over the next few months.
San Diego immigration attorney Jacob Sapochnick said he's advising his undocumented clients not to sign up until more information becomes available.
"It could be some sort of a sign that there may be something happening in the government as far as part of a big reform that will come up," said Sapochnick. "It could be that this is just the beginning because they told this agency to start doing this. I find it hard to believe that this is going to be the case, but who knows?"
Over the years, there have been numerous calls to abolish the Selective Service system, most recently from lawmakers in Colorado.