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14.6 Percent of DACA-Eligible Population Fluent in Languages Vital to Military Success

NEW YORK, NY– According to a new research brief released by New American Economy, a substantial portion of the DACA-eligible population has language or workforce training that could help address the U.S. military’s recruitment challenges. The report finds that more than 169,000 DACA-eligible individuals are fluent in a language vital to military success but in short supply among U.S.-born recruits.

Using the criteria 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—the report measures how the DACA-eligible population meets these standards, and suggests that many would be good candidates given their skills.

Earlier this year, Republican Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-10) introduced the ENLIST Act, a targeted measure that grants green cards to Dreamers who opt to pursue military service. The NAE-supported bill quickly gathered more than 200 bipartisan co-sponsors, making it one of the most broadly supported bills of this Congress.

“Keeping Dreamers from enlisting undermines our national security,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “Immigrants have strengthened America’s armed forces going back to the Revolution, and as we face threats from every corner of the globe today, bolstering the ranks with more skilled, multilingual professionals would only help.”

The brief, Outside the Wire: How Barring the DACA-Eligible Population from Enlisting Weakens our Military, finds:

  • More than one out of every seven members of the DACA-eligible population has language skills that are currently in short supply in the U.S. military. The U.S. military has identified more than three dozen languages for which they routinely have trouble finding enough speakers to meet current recruitment needs. More than 169,000 DACA-eligible individuals ages 18 and above—or 14.6 percent—speak one of those languages routinely at home.
  • A healthy number of DACA-eligible individuals of recruitment age have either healthcare or STEM training. Almost 42,000 people who are DACA eligible have worked in healthcare in the last five years—including more than 19,000 who have worked as either medical practitioners or technicians. Additionally, roughly 27,000 have held science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) positions. The U.S. armed forces routinely face challenges recruiting individuals with these skill sets.
  • The language skills of the DACA population would be relevant to a wide range of global missions. Almost 28,000 Dreamers speak Korean at home, while more than 9,000 speak Russian—both languages identified as posing recruitment challenges. There is also a substantial portion of the Dreamer population that speaks one or more languages relevant to the country’s ongoing military engagements: Almost 12,000 DACA-eligible immigrants speak Arabic, Urdu, Pashto, or Farsi at home.

Read the full brief here.

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