A senior US defense officials today urged the Congress to fast track a section of the stalled immigration bill that would allow the military to recruit illegal aliens, after recruitment figures released by Pentagon showed that the Army failed to reach its targets for May.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, provision in the immigration bill was expected to help boost military recruiting by allowing illegal aliens to enlist as way to obtain citizenship, Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told a veterans’ group representatives.
“In other words, if you had come across (the border) with your parents, yet you were a minor child and have been in the U.S. school system for a number of years, then you could be eligible to enlist,” he said. “And at the end of that enlistment, then you would be eligible to become a citizen.”
Carr’s remarks came as Defense Department figures showed that the Army only recruited 5,101 active-duty soldiers in May, 399 short of its 5,500-soldier goal. The Army National Guard fell 12 percent short of its goal while the Air National Guard numbers were 23 percent below the target.
Deployed troops reported during surveys that they are “a few percentage points” less inclined to re-enlist, but Carr said the “flat” overall retention picture suggests that current retention trends will continue, at least for the near term
That flat projection is expected to apply to recruiting, too, with no major shifts expected in the propensity of young people to join the military, he said.
This outlook isn’t as positive among influencers and parents, those adults who help young people make decisions about joining the military. Support among this group “continues to dwindle as the war progresses,” Carr said.
While President Bush returns to Washington to help revive the stalled immigration reform package, Carr said talk is already taking place to see if at least the DREAM provision of the stalled bill can proceed.
At this point, he said, “we are not sure if the Congress would be interested in resurrecting that segment of the bill.”