Written by Leor Reef, Campus Progress
A Florida Representative has introduced federal legislation that mirrors the DREAM Act but would only apply to undocumented immigrants who serve in the military.
Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) introduced the bill, called the Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act (ARMS Act) last month, and it’s already causing a stir among American immigration advocates.
The bill takes the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented young people who pursue higher education or military service, and removes the clause allowing immigrant youth to become citizens through education.
In December 2010, the DREAM Act passed the House by a vote of 216-198, but failed in the Senate by five votes due to a lack of bipartisan support.
“If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America,” Rivera told the Miami Herald.
But many immigration-reform supporters find this bill troubling.
Ai Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, described the ARMS Act as a “distortion of the DREAM Act.”
Some reformers argue excluding legalization through military service would give undocumented youth the wrong incentives for enlisting. It’s dignified to enlist voluntarily and such a move should be applauded, they say, but there are other ways to serve your country and benefit the American economy.
And some say the ARMS Act would send the wrong message to American citizens and the rest of the world by valuing military service over the education of the country’s future leaders.
Policymakers and education officials frequently discuss how the United States can improve its education ranks in relation to the rest of the world and part of the solution lies in the DREAM Act. Many undocumented youth are motivated and dedicated to leading successful lives and being productive American citizens.
These immigrants are young people with budding potential to develop the U.S. workforce and middle class. Denying them a right to citizenship is only detrimental to the U.S. society and economy.
This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
Photo from victoriabernal via flickr