Monday, December 27, 2004


The DREAM Act and Military Recruitment

COMD: Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft

This article supported the idea of permanent legal residency for undocumented students who complete two years of college but also called attention to the military service component of the DREAM Act. Advocates of the DREAM Act have tended to ignore the "second stage" of the Act, that is, the routes by which the provisional(conditional) legal residency granted in the "first stage" may become permanent.

The following is a recent description of the revised second stage (with the elimination of the community service option):

"Section 5 provides the ways through which conditional residents, after proving themselves worthy after six years, may become permanent residents. The ways are to earn a degree from an institution of higher education [community college] or to complete two years in a bachelor's or higher program, or to serve honorably in the military for at least two years. The option of performing community service was eliminated by the Grassley-Feinstein Amendment."

The article also argued that the outlook for Latino/as in terms of educational opportunity is not promising. This is not due to any lack of academic potential or desire on the part of immigrants but is the result of worsening structural problems.

According to the California Department of Finance, for example, nearly two million qualified students will be turned away from community colleges and universities between 2004 and 2013 if funding for higher education in the state is not increased. In October of 2003, the Grassley-Feinstein Amendment created a new section of the DREAM
Act (Section 12) that stipulates:
"A DREAM Act beneficiary... shall not be eligible for disbursement of funds, such as Pell Grants or other grants or scholarships, which do not require repayment."

The breakdown of the K-12 system, tracking, rising college tuition costs, overcrowded campuses, shrinking amounts of scholarship monies, and the fact that persistence and transfer rates for Latino/as in community colleges are extremely low could create a situation in which military service would become the most viable option for people seeking permanent legal residency.

Conservative intellectuals calling for the use of immigrants and non-citizens to fill military manpower needs have already made the connection between the DREAM Act and military service. See, for example, Max Boot's proposal from 2005:

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 10, 2006, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu made the connection even plainer: "According to an April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law Center, there are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each year, many of whom are bright, energetic and potentially interested in military service...Provisions of S. 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform."

A shorter version of my article published by the Pacific News Service elicited a number of responses from undocumented students who expressed a willingness to serve in the military (see below). These responses tell us a great deal about the ways in which traditional patriotism and neo-assimilationism are affecting immigrant families. A more properly "Chicano/a" or critical understanding of the role of the U.S. military at home and in the world appears to be increasingly marginalized.

On my university campus, for example, military recruiters are regularly featured at conferences for Latino/a high school students (e.g., the "Adelante Latino" conference). Ironically these meetings, sponsored by Hispanic fraternities and sororities as well as local school districts with high numbers of Latino/a students, claim to promote education but wind up exposing hundred of young children to the military's sales pitch.


Cruz, Jose on Oct 09, 2004 17:11:50, said:
I was brought to America when I was 12,I am 21 now and I am only going to college because the in the state of Illinois I pay in-state tuition even being ILLEGAL. I am a 3.80 gpa student better than 90% of all national students .
I would serve the military if I was given an opportunity to so so and DIE for America if necessary. Shouldn't I be able to be legal?
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