An article at The Hill asks whether Democrats should support a version of the DREAM Act that only includes military service. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney claim to support that, though of course Romney only did so on his way to Florida.
Striking a compromise would allow Republicans to earn some points with Hispanic voters and lessen pressure on Republican lawmakers to support more comprehensive immigration reform.
Walking away from possible common ground, however, could leave Democrats open to criticism that they missed a chance to make incremental progress.
I don't think Democrats have much to fear. Latinos overwhelmingly support the DREAM Act, but my hunch is that support would drop like a stone if it meant only funneling people into the military.
We actually just had this discussion in my Politics of Latin American Immigration to the United States class. There are several points to keep in mind (and some of these ideas, I should note, came from a student discussion).
First, the DREAM Act is not intended to grab desperate military recruits who don't really want to be there. If you make the armed forces the only option, then that's what it becomes. Immigration and militarization is a delicate mix.
Second, the military is downsizing as we try to end two wars. Therefore it makes little sense to have it be the only option.
Third, through no fault of their own many people are ineligible for the military but are primed to go to college. They are out of luck under this plan.
Politically, Democrats likely have more to gain by insisting that the DREAM Act--which has majority support in the country--be passed in its entirety, and let Republicans explain why they refuse. I hope someone is putting out some polls as we speak to see how all this is perceived.