U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Fighting to belong

America has traditionally been known around the world as the land of opportunity because of the many immigrants who come to the United States aspiring to a better life.

Some of them join the Armed Forces, which can also accelerate the process of gaining their citizenship and earning  the right to stay.

Erbol Bekmuratov, a recruit with Platoon 2012, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, and an immigrant from Almaty, Kazakhstan, said he joined the Marine Corps for several reasons.

“I chose the Marines because when I moved here, I heard they were the best this country had, and I wanted to belong to it,” Bekmuratov said.

“I joined because I wanted to earn my citizenship quickly and get money for school once I get out,” Bekmuratov added.

Bekmuratov moved from his country to Philadelphia when he was 16, after his father received a job in the city. Once Bekmuratov was old enough to join the Corps, he spoke with a recruiter.

While citizenship can be a motivating factor to the decision to join the military, other reasons exist as well.

Andres Morales, a recruit with Plt. 2012, Fox Co., 2nd RTBn., said that gaining his citizenship while in the service is only an added bonus.

“I joined because I had several family members who are in the military back home, and I want to continue that tradition,” said Morales, of Bogota, Colombia.

Morales said that he chose the Marine Corps because of its reputation as an elite force and hopes to become a proficient Marine in the future.

Gunnery Sgt. Rafael Jimenez, the Recruit Training Regiment equal opportunity representative, said those who serve honorably deserve the best gift the country can give, which is to grant them their citizenship.

Although foreign recruits grew up in different places than others in their platoons, Jimenez said cultural differences do not tend to interfere with the routine of training. In fact, immigrants’ unique backgrounds often help their success through the rigors of Parris Island.


e of the foreign recruits come from second- and third-world countries. Jimenez said their experiences in such places often compels them to appreciate the value of training more than many of their fellow recruits who are not trying to earn citizenship.

Morales said he hopes to finish recruit training and become a productive Marine.

“I am proud of what I am doing here and I want to earn my place in the Marine Corps and in this country,” Morales said.

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