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From Draft NOtices, April-June 2015

Action Needed

Undocumented Students Are Hostages in New Attempt to Make Draft Registration Automatic in California

—Rick Jahnkow

California’s large population has one of the lowest Selective Service registration rates in the country. This would make a future return to the draft less likely because so many men (yes, it’s still male-only) would be beyond the government’s reach. For the seventh time, however, Selective Service is asking the California state legislature to boost registration compliance by making it mandatory and automatic in order to receive a California driver’s license. The last such proposal failed less than a year ago.

Proposed this time by Assembly member Cristina Garcia (D-Downey), Assembly Bill 82 seeks to use DMV records to automatically register males with Selective Service when they apply for a license or license renewal. Its first hearing was scheduled for the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, April 6, 2015. Based on past patterns, there is a good chance the bill will make it past this first committee, in which case an avalanche of letters to legislators will be needed to stop it again.

If anyone did not know, even immigrants -- regardless of their legal status -- are supposed to register for a possible future draft. So this time around, Selective Service and its allies are trying to win over Democratic votes for the bill by exploiting the plight of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Their tactic is to tell legislators that a large number of undocumented people who are failing to register with Selective Service by age 26 are being permanently barred from receiving college financial aid and possible citizenship. And if those legislators truly care about the welfare of these young people, they should pass AB 82.

While it is true that draft registration is a condition for males to receive student aid and apply for citizenship, registering would still not remove the legal barrier that denies undocumented students federal financial aid and the opportunity to apply for citizenship. The only possible benefit for them in California would be the ability to apply for state student aid, but the conditions for that are narrow and would only relate to a relatively small number of undocumented students who are able to graduate and gain acceptance at a state college or university.

Another disturbing development is that, according to one legislator’s aide, Selective Service representatives are implying that undocumented youths will be disqualified from the Obama administration’s DACA program, which grants individuals temporary protection from deportation. In fact, there is NO such requirement to obtain DACA status.

By relying on these tactics, Selective Service is using undocumented youths like virtual hostages in order to get almost all California males registered. Many legislators may not even notice that the hostages will not actually be freed by acceding to Selective Service’s demands; while, on the other hand, these young people would be seriously at risk of losing their freedom, and possibly their lives, if an increase in draft registrations made it possible for conscription to return.

For an update on AB 82, including a list of talking points for letters, contact Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft via email at comdsd@aol.com, or call 760-753-7518

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/)

 

       

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