Durbin Highlights Contributions Of Military And JROTC Dreamers

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on Republican leaders of the Senate and House to bring the bipartisan Dream Act to the floor, highlighting the contributions of Dreamers who are serving in the military and involved in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) programs. Following the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, many JROTC cadets and servicemembers who are DACA recipients are at risk of deportation if Congress does not pass the Dream Act. 

"Throughout our history, immigrants have proudly served in our Armed Forces, fighting – and giving their lives – alongside their brothers and sisters in arms in defense of their adopted country,” Durbin said. “Since I first introduced the Dream Act 16 years ago, I’ve met many Dreamers who have the talent, the heart, and the determination to be great servicemembers. They are willing to risk their lives for our country, but instead they could be deported back to countries where they haven’t lived since they were children.  Will America be a stronger country if we deport these Dreamers or if they stay here and serve in the Armed Forces?  The answer is clear.”

In May 2014, Durbin held a Congressional hearing at Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago to urge the Defense Department to allow DACA recipients to enlist in the military. Following the hearing, the Defense Department allowed DACA recipients to enlist via the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest program, also known as MAVNI, which allows immigrants with skills that are “vital to the national interest” to enlist in the Armed Forces.  More than 800 DACA recipients with these critical skills have joined the military through MAVNI.

In July, Durbin and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.