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Giffords: DREAM Act will support military recruiting

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced her support for the DREAM Act on Wednesday.

Giffords cited an expanded military recruiting pool as a factor in her support of the measure.

The DREAM Act would grant conditional residency to those brought to the U.S. before the age of 15, if they complete two years of college or military service.

"The young people who will be eligible for the DREAM Act know no country other than the United States," said Giffords in a news release.

"This is their home and they are part of our communities," said the congresswoman from Arizona's 8th Congressional District. "If these individuals want to serve the United States by putting on a military uniform, we should find a way to make that possible. If they want to strengthen our economy by seeking higher education, we should find a way to make that possible, too."

The Pentagon included the DREAM Act in its latest strategic plan, Giffords said. The Defense Department considers the law an essential part of its ability to maintain an all-volunteer force, she said.

Giffords has appeared on many pundits' lists of those undecided on the law, but she's been a long-time supporter of the measure, said her spokesman, C.J. Karamargin.

Giffords was a co-sponsor, with Rep. Raul Grijalva,  of the STRIVE Act in 2007, a law that included the provisions of the DREAM Act. That bill was crafted by Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), but failed to pass Congress.

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Flake plans to vote against the DREAM Act on Wednesday.

"By moving ahead with legalization alone, Democrats have little incentive to support increased enforcement and a temporary worker program, and without those components we’ve not truly addressed the problem," Flake said in a news release. He said he continues to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Southern Arizona's other representative has been a strong supporter of the law.

"Current immigration law punishes highly motivated youths by preventing them from reaching their full potential. Their crime: having no say in their parents’ decision to come to this country illegally," Rep. Grijalva said.

"The DREAM Act would restore the American ideal of equal opportunity for these young people who want to be productive contributors to our society," he said.

The House will vote on the law Wednesday evening. The Senate is expected to vote Thursday.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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