Outside the Wire: How Barring the DACA-Eligible Population from Enlisting Weakens our Military

New American Economy
Date of Publication: 
November, 2017
Source Organization: 
New American Economy

Nearly 800,000 Dreamers have participated in the DACA program, of the estimated 1.3 million who were eligible. As a group, they have had a large and positive economic impact. Recent research by New American Economy indicates that the DACA-eligible population earns $19.9 billion in income each year and is more likely to be an entrepreneur than U.S.-born workers of the equivalent age.

Yet, there is another, less appreciated, way that Dreamers could contribute to the United States: by helping to strengthen and fill gaps in our military ranks. We explore this issue in depth in this brief.

As has been widely reported, the military is currently struggling to find enough recruits fluent in some strategically important languages. The armed forces also have a need for more workers trained in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (or STEM) fields, as well as certain healthcare professions. Using the criterion that makes an immigrant eligible for Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest—a program that allows temporary residents with skills in certain shortage areas to join the military—this report examines how the DACA-eligible population could help meet the country’s unique defense needs. We find that a substantial portion of the DACA-eligible population has language or workforce training that could help address the military’s recruitment challenges. Current policy however, makes it highly difficult for such individuals to enlist. And if the DACA program is allowed to expire in early 2018 as is currently planned, joining will soon become impossible.

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New American Economy. (2017). Outside the Wire: How Barring the DACA-Eligible Population from Enlisting Weakens our Military. Retrieved from https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/outside-the-wire-how-barring-the-daca-eligible-population-from-enlisting-weakens-our-military/