Military DREAM Is a Mirage

by Mark Krikorian

The sponsors of the DREAM Act inserted what they clearly considered boob bait for patriotic Americans — a provision that qualifying illegal aliens (came before age 16, here at least five years, have a high school diploma or GED) could convert to permanent status and get a green card if they served two years in the military (as an alternative to two years of college). Just today, Clifford Stanley, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, told reporters that DREAM is a “commonsense” and “obvious” way to increase recruitment:

“They’re actually doing very well in our schools, many of them. They’re high quality,” Stanley told reporters in a conference call. “As we look at our force now for the future, bringing in talented people in this cyclical nature of how our recruiting business goes is significant.”

This guy is obviously a political appointee parroting the administration line, because he knows perfectly well this is malarkey. The Migration Policy Institute estimated that 31,000 illegal aliens — at the absolute outside — would get their green cards via military service (see p. 15 here). And that’s over maybe a ten-year period.

That’s not even a drop in the bucket for recruitment. In Fiscal Year 2010, which ended September 30, the Pentagon reports it recruited about 165,000 people for active duty (I don’t remember if service in the reserves counts in the DREAM Act). That’s an average of about 14,000 a month, so 10 years’ worth of DREAM recruits wouldn’t add up to three months’ worth of manpower needs for the armed forces — and even that’s pushing it, frankly, since many of the DREAM beneficiaries would have GEDs, which the military generally doesn’t accept. Others would be rejected because they don’t speak English; MPI reports that 12 percent of those qualified for the initial, conditional DREAM status and who already have high-school diplomas or GEDs speak English not well or not at all. (Let me repeat: one out of eight young illegal aliens who have grown up here and have a high school completion credential can’t speak English. So much for being Americans “in all but paperwork.”) What’s more, those scoring in the bottom 20 percent of the spread in the military IQ test are barred by law from enlisting, while the next 20 percent are limited to a very small number. Finally, the radical-left groups have long been outraged that the military option is even there and will be actively working in immigrant communities (where they have a significant base) to dissuade people from recruiting.

In short, the argument that Republicans need to support the DREAM Act because the Pentagon wants it is complete hogwash. Even if the military wanted to foreignize our armed forces as way of keeping labor costs down (as Max Boot has suggested), DREAM wouldn’t fit the bill.