Ed. Note: This is the fifth in a series of posts from top Administration Officials on the importance of the DREAM Act. Read Education Secretary Arne Duncan's post here, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's contribution here, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's post here, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's here.
In three decades of service in the Marine Corps, I served with many people who immigrated to our nation looking for a better life. Regardless of their backgrounds, they had – and still have – one core mission in life: to serve others.
There is a rich tradition of non-citizens serving in the United States military since the Revolutionary War. Their life experiences, languages and cultures enhance diversity, ensuring that our military continues to represent the nation it serves. The DREAM Act would build on this tradition.
Thousands of young people graduate from American high schools every year who are DREAM eligible; who have the determination and the qualifications to join the military and serve our nation. The DREAM Act would provide the military the opportunity to reach out to this pool of qualified youth eligible to join, and strengthen the All Volunteer Force.
We have an opportunity to provide citizenship for people who are talented, who would like to bring the benefits they have received to others. But for circumstances beyond their control, we don't allow them to serve. To ignore that opportunity – to ignore them – simply is unconscionable.