Laurie Harris, a 34-year-old doctor from Newburyport, attended Boston University Medical School through a program that paid her tuition in exchange for service in the Air Force. But before she completed her medical training, Harris was dismissed from the Air Force and sent a bill for her tuition. Her crime? She had told her commanding officer she was a lesbian.
In the 17 years since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell became policy, 13,000 men and women have been dismissed from the military. We shouldn’t turn away anyone who wants to serve, though we do every day.
Filipe wanted to serve in the Navy for as long as he could remember. His grandfather was in the Brazilian Navy and Filipe was inspired by his service. Filipe was brought to the United States by his mother when he was 12. Today he wants to attend the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, study engineering, and serve in the U.S. Navy. He felt “broken in half” when he found out he wasn’t allowed to serve his country. We owe Filipe better and we owe our military better.
The DREAM Act would do just what its name implies – let young people like Filipe achieve the American dream. Any child who was brought to this country illegally but has attended school, stayed out of trouble, and completes two years of college or military service will be able to earn citizenship. These children did not intentionally break the law. They are innocent victims of a broken immigration system. If they are willing to put their lives on the line to defend our country, the least we can do is honor their courage and allow them to become citizens of the country they swear to defend.
I’ll come back here with updates as we move forward; we can never give up the fight.