DREAM Act Would Expand Recruiting PoolBy Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 - Enactment of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would expand the eligible recruiting pool for the U.S. military, a senior Defense Department official said today.
"The department supports those elements of the DREAM Act that provide children of nonresident immigrants a clear path to U.S. citizenship through service in the military," said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
If enacted, the bill would provide a path for certain undocumented alien students to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military. Candidates enlisting under the act would be subject to the same rigorous military entrance standards as all other applicants, officials said.
"Throughout past and current conflicts, those who are not yet citizens have answered the call to defend their adopted nation," Stanley said. "Allowing DREAM Act-eligible youth the opportunity to serve this nation would continue this tradition of service, while expanding the market of high-quality patriotic youth, to the advantage of military recruitment and readiness."
Noncitizens have enlisted in the military since the beginning of the republic. During the American Civil War, recruiting officers often greeted immigrants as they debarked in New York and Boston, officials noted. Today, about 35,000 noncitizens are members of the military, and about 5,000 to 8,000 permanent resident aliens enlist each year.
Military recruiting officials have said that only 25 percent of U.S. youth qualify to enlist in the military. The DREAM Act, they have noted, would expand the pool of potential recruits and would be another tool that recruiters could use to build the force.