"It is not a coincidence that the recruiting center is located here" in a moderate-income neighborhood like Jackson Heights, said Aaron Ameral, a law students and organizer of the 1-1/2-year-old Queens Anti-War Committee."The call for 25,000 more troops has an inordinate impact on immigrant communities," he said, alleging that immigrant soldiers enlist to speed up the process in becoming an American.Some two dozen protesters carrying signs and chanting anti-war slogans gathered beneath the second-floor office of the U.S. Army Career Center at 82-02 Roosevelt Ave. The rally was held several hours before Bush presented his plan during a televised address from the White House Jan. 10 for an increase in troop levels by an estimated 20,000 in Iraq.Military personnel who are legal residents but not citizens are eligible for expedited citizenship proceedings based on a 2003 executive order signed by Bush, U.S. Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said from Ft. Knox."There have always been incentives in terms of pay and education benefits. There may be immigrants motivated to enlist for those reasons," he said. "But basically citizens enlist for the same reasons as non-citizens."Protesters said Bush was not taking into account the will of the voters who sent Republicans packing in the November mid-term elections, which was widely seen as a critique of the war."Polls show that people want the war to end now," said Astoria resident Lindsey Goss, a member of the Queens Anti-War Committee. She wanted to build momentum for the national anti-war march planned for Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C. Buses will be leaving Jackson Heights to bring New Yorkers to the rally, she said.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@times
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