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Dreamers Push President to Direct Military to Let Them Serve

Just after Memorial Day, immigrant youth known as Dreamers are asking the president to direct the Defense Department to allow them to enlist.

Young immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. are asking President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to allow them to serve in the military.

In an open letter to Obama, members of the DRM Action Coalition asked the president to direct the Department of Defense to allow qualified immigrants to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Military service has been included in various incarnations of immigration reform legislation as a qualifier for young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers, who did not arrive legally or failed to leave the U.S. after visas expired to gain some form of legal status. But those bills have failed to get approval in Congress.

The Dreamers said that while many have temporary deferrals from deportation through what is known as DACA, “we still cannot serve in the military despite several legislative attempts.”

“There are many who did not have their citizenship who were able to earn it through service in conflicts like the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I and World War II,” the group said.

Immigrants with DACA already can join the military through a Bush-era program that accepts recruits with special medical skills or speak certain languages, though Spanish is not one of the needed languages.

That program has caused some backlash because such recruits have a swifter path to citizenship.But few immigrants with DACA have enlisted through the program because they don’t meet its special requirements.

In its 2010-12 Strategic Plan, the Department of Defense included using the DREAM Act to achieve recruiting objectives.

--Suzanne Gamboa