Durbin slams DOD cap on Dreamer enlistees


By:  Ramsey Cox

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) blasted a Defense Department decision to limit the military enlistment of young immigrants known as Dreamers.

“This is a missed opportunity by the Defense Department, which clearly has the legal authority to authorize the enlistment of Dreamers,” Durbin said on Thursday. “This decision falls short of what our nation needs and these young men and women are prepared to give.”

The Department of Defense announced that it would allow Dreamers who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to enlist in the Armed Forces, but only through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) pilot program. Durbin said this decision means a maximum of 1,500 enlistees would be able to serve in the military, likely as translators or medics.

“These young men and women are prepared to serve our country,” Durbin said. “Merely allowing Dreamers to enlist through the very limited MAVNI program does not go nearly far enough and deprives our military of access to a well-qualified, educated, homegrown talent pool.”

Durbin said he had hoped the DOD would have authorized the enlistment of more immigrants because it would make the U.S. military more diverse.

He has been the lead author on several immigration reform bills that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, undocumented children brought to the United States by their parents.