How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A military-only version of the Dream Act?

Remember how GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich suggested that he'd back a version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that didn't have a college component? Taking a cue from Gingrich, a Florida Republican Congressman has now introduced just that, a House bill that proposes conditional legal status for undocumented young people who enlist in the military. Going to college, however, would not be an option.

Rep. David Rivera told the Miami Herald that such a bill would stand a greater change of approval than the existing Dream Act, which is the most recent version of a measure that's been proposed several times in the last decade. That bill proposes granting conditional legal status to young people who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 if they attend college or join the military.

The biggest push for the long-proposed Dream Act has come from college students. But its military component has always been less well received, with critics fearing it could drive some youths for whom college is not an option into the military out of desperation for a green card. From the Herald story:

Inspired by Monday night's Republican presidential debate over immigration, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, filed a bill that would give young people who serve in the military - not college students - a path to U.S. citizenship.

"If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America," Rivera said.

...He said that he did add some measures to his legislation that might sway skeptics, including a provision that requires applicants to have been in the country not only since they before they turned 16, but for five consecutive years.

His own bill doesn"t ensure automatic residency, Rivera said. Applicants would need to meet a set of preliminary criteria to be considered for the program, and once accepted, demonstrate good moral conduct and a record of service in the United States military to then be eligible for legal status.

Read more at: www.miamiherald.com

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