DREAMers in the Military—A Bad Idea

Published on February 3rd, 2012

By Joe Guzzardi
January 30, 2012

Since DREAM Act advocates have had a tough time selling their pet project of granting in-state university tuition to illegal aliens, they’ve developed a new and more insidious strategy—offering to trade military service for cheaper college fees. Little wonder that DREAM Act proponents have resorted to Plan B; tuition rates for citizen children have skyrocketed nationwide which in turn has created a massive wall of taxpayer resistance to more alien entitlements. Who but the most agenda driven could endorse the idea of discounted tuition for aliens while American kids are on the outside looking in?

The latest DREAMer’s angle is that for those willing to serve in the military, they would be rewarded with DREAM ACT benefits including a path to citizenship. Republican candidates, supposedly desperate for the so called “crucial Hispanic vote,” have indicated some support for this bad policy.

If you can get beyond the idea of foreign nationals serving in the American military during the terrorism era, the scheme still has a ton of negatives.

Two years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a report titled “Gang Activity in the U.S. Armed Forces Increasing.” According to its findings, nearly every major street gang had infiltrated most military branches but was most pervasive in the junior enlisted ranks. Among those gangs, many made up of alien members, were the notorious Salvadoran Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the Mexican Mafia, Nortenos, Surenos and the Maniac Latin Disciples. At Forts Hood, Bliss and Bragg, over 200 hard core gang members have been exposed. All joined the Army by falsifying their identities. But new liberalized enlistment guidelines would now spare aliens the inconvenience of obtaining false documents.

Another major drawback is that military service is a paying job—and one Americans highly covet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall teenage unemployment rate is 25 percent with black teenage unemployment at 40 percent. No surprise then that during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the military had no trouble getting enlistees without soliciting aliens. In fact, it could pick and choose among its U.S.-born candidates. Post-Iraq, however, a different problem has surfaced especially for those trying to barter for the DREAM Act. The military already has more people than it needs and, in what it refers to as “reduction in force” or RIF, is canceling call up orders for active reserves.

A military expert whose analysis appears on the Internet website www.strategypage.com explains it this way:

"….(Iraq) is gone, money is tight, and the army can shed over 40,000 troops over the next five years. RIF is what the military calls a layoff and the army hopes to avoid this. By offering early retirements, buyouts and increased retention (being able to renew your contract) standards, the army hopes to avoid just summarily firing people."

Today and for the foreseeable future, unemployed high school graduates will have trouble getting entry level military jobs. Given that enlisting foreign nationals is an ill-advised policy to begin with and compounding that negative with the across the board reductions in force, there’s no rational argument to tie the DREAM Act to military service.

The hard facts, however, won’t convince DREAM Act enthusiasts. They’ve been beaten back for ten years. An eleventh won’t dissuade them.


Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected]

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