"There's peer pressure and then there's Army pressure"
Legislation that could grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented high school graduates is creating a schism among Latino educators and others who have typically favored legalization efforts.
At issue is a component of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, a bill that could be voted on in the Senate by next week as an amendment to a Department of Defense authorization bill.
The proposed legislation, a version of which was first introduced in 2001, would make high school graduates who arrived in the United States illegally at 15 or younger and who have lived here at least five years, eligible for conditional legal status provided they attend two years of college or serve two years in the military. After six years, those who meet the conditions could obtain legal permanent resident status.
It is the military service component that has landed some Latino supporters of legalization measures on the same side of the proposal as the immigration restriction lobby, which decries the DREAM Act as amnesty.
Those uncomfortable with the military component see the measure as a devil's bargain: On one hand, it offers a shot at higher education and success to young people who might otherwise have to spend their lives in the shadows. On the other, they fear that those who can't afford college, or don't see it as a viable choice, might feel compelled to join the military not because they want to, but because they fear eventual deportation.