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Hispanic Men Are Losing Benefits

Las Vegas, Nev., April 1 –Too many Hispanic males are missing out on important government benefits and programs, observed Gil Coronado, Director of the Selective Service System, in a speech given to the National Association of Hispanic Publications, at its 15th Annual National Convention in Las Vegas.

Coronado, the ninth Director of the Selective Service System since the Agency’s inception 60 years ago, is its first Hispanic Director. He was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to head the Federal Agency responsible for conducting a military draft in a crisis. During his speech, Coronado explained that many Hispanic men are being denied Federal benefits because of their failure to register with the Selective Service System.

Federal law requires men turning 18 who reside permanently in the United States, citizens and non-citizens alike, to register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. About two million men are required to register each year. Failure to register is a felony and causes a man to be ineligible for student loans and grants for college, most Federal and many state jobs, jobs with the U. S. Postal Service, and Federal job training programs. Registration is also a requirement for U. S. citizenship, for immigrant men who are seeking citizenship. All too often, immigrant males are not aware of this requirement until they apply for citizenship and, if they are over the age of 26, it is too late for them to register. By law, the Selective Service System cannot register any man after he reaches his 26th birthday.

"If we do not reach Hispanic males to remind them about registration, America will be on the verge of creating a permanent underclass," says Coronado.

To this end, the Selective Service System and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) recently joined forces to assist immigrants fulfill their registration requirement. The result is a revised "Application to Adjust Permanent Status" (Form I-485), which has been added to the INS web site. The new form includes a statement informing male immigrants that their information will be shared with the Selective Service System for the purpose of registering them.

"Our goal at Selective Service is to make sure that Hispanic males have an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream," says Coronado. "The revision of Form I-485, further ensures that new immigrants do not unknowingly deny themselves benefits," Coronado said.

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Last Updated August 25, 2009
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