Florida bill would give citizenship to undocumented youth – so long as they enter the military

“If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America.”

No joke, this is what Rep. David Rivera (R-Miami) said when he proposed a bill last week that takes the “DREAM” out of the DREAM Act and replace it as the ARMS (Adjusted Residency for Military Service) Act. The bill would essentially grant legal status to undocumented youth, though not for pursuing their dreams through higher education, but solely under the condition that they enter the military. What’s worse is where Rivera got the idea to push the bill — from the GOP candidates:

“With the presidential debate…and with Romney’s support, that means the two front-running candidates are supportive of it and that could help these kids,” Rivera said. “Then Republicans in Congress (might) say: ‘If our two presidential front-runners are fine with it, most Americans would be fine with it.’”

Romney had previously said he’d veto the DREAM Act, but has recently endorsed the portion of the legislation that gives young people a path to citizenship in return for military service. His endorsement of the concept came even as he and Gingrich are both fighting for the votes of Hispanic Republicans in Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“I would not sign the Dream Act as it currently exists,” Romney said during the debate. “But I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service.”

“Help these kids” my fucking ass. Let’s be real here: Imposing mandatory military service for citizenship on undocumented youth would not only be completely archaic, but straight-up oppressive and only further marginalize an already stigmatized community. And to boot, basing the bill on the argument that undocumented youth should have to risk their lives for a pass to legal status is just about as heinous as it gets.

There’s no question that Rivera should be completely ashamed of himself for introducing this bill, including anyone who would support it. Call his office and tell them so: (305) 222-0160.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. They don’t have to enter the military but if they do they get quick citizenship. During my time in the Marines I met a few immigrants from several countries who improved a lot financially and were happy to serve. Once they are citizens they can immigrate their spouses and kids. Most only do one term and then they get college benefits that most Americans don’t have. The new GI Bill covers tuition AND pays you to go to school based on location. In San Diego my “salary” for going to school is $2000 a month tax free plus I work full time. My non veteran peers owe tens of thousands in loans that will take them 10 years to pay off after they graduate while I am collecting $18,000 a year for 9 months of school. I highly recommend immigrants join.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alp227/ Andrew

    the title gives the impression that this is a bill intro’d in the Florida state legislature. Instead it was intro’d in the US House of Reps, and especially so since it deals w/immigration & citizenship issues.

  • http://www.cs.brown.edu/people/rebecca/ ADHD PhD

    Besides risking people’s lives, and totally excluding people who can’t join the military (like certain religions, people who have disabilities, and maybe also trans people I don’t know if that was part of DADT), I feel like as long as the US military can’t get its act together regarding sexual harrassment and assault, that should be reason enough to make this bill a bad idea.

  • http://feministing.com/members/erin888/ Erin

    This is not a new idea and it already exists.

    I had many soldiers in my unit in Iraq attain their citizenship while downrange. Why shouldn’t those who volunteer to serve this country be granted citizenship? No one is forcing them to do so. The vitriol spewed on this site against the military is maddening. There are countries around the world that mandate government/public service for the rights of citizenship. Now that service can include volunteering at a hospital, military service, or working a year or two in another governmental agency.

    What is wrong with asking people to give back a little to their country? I’d like to see in the same post that it infuriates you that young men have to sign up for the selective service when they reach 18 but young women do not. Or to the contrary, that women should be requried to if men are required to. That would be feminist.

    And “help these kids [your] ass,” yes, the military is one of the closest institutions to a meritocracy that we have. No it is not perfect, and no human institution ever will be. But it is a path to financial indepence, medical and dental coverage for a person and their dependents, advancement on a very clear standardized promotion standard, governmental hiring preference after service, and the GI bill. Marginalize the community? It could arguably give the community a greater voice, having service members who gave more to the country than others do.

    Your comments demonstrate ignorance of the military, which is normal for Americans, as less than 1% of the population ever wears a uniform. Don’t denigrate the service of those who have already taken this route. I would be beyond impressed if one of the Feministing editors got out into a military community and saw it for their own eyes. Go to a VA hospital or a nearby post.

    • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

      Actually, I remember Feministing having an article I think in late 2011 about the ERA being reintroduced to Congress and how, among other things, it could possibly open up the chance for women to be drafted, and be able to join the infantry officially.

    • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

      How is joining the military and possibly going to wars and dying giving a ‘little’ back to your country? That’s not a little, not by any stretch of the imagination.
      I also want to point out that these are undocumented immigrants, so it’s not their country when they join, it will be their country after the fact, not before.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley

    I thought I’d make a post to disagree, but I see that everyone has beaten me to it!

    Just my little remarks.

    1) There is nothing mandatory about it. No one is suggesting that undocumented have to join the military.
    2) I do agree though, that it looks a little dubious if this is the only way to get documented (?) or to get the right to stay. I’m not sure that making this the only way in is fair. If public service is the key, why not broaden the possibilities? To the Peace Corps? Or community service?

  • http://feministing.com/members/anthonybrown/ Anthony Brown

    Just adding some interesting research to Erin’s comment: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/06/11/it-s-all-about-the-rank.html

    For the lazy, the link says that the job satisfaction in the military increases with lower standing in traditional social rankings (i.e. underprivileged minorities and women feel more satisfied, and white males feel least satisfied). It speculates that this has to do with the meritocratic nature of the military. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deal with sexual orientation/identification.

    The military really needs to get its act together on issues of sexual harassment and assault, but it does provide something remarkable in that it’s nearly a true meritocracy. That has to be worth something.