Yesterday, former Secretary of State and retired General, Colin Powell, not only called for Republicans to stop driving the anti-immigrant bandwagon, but made an economic case for immigration as well as the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is attached to the Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill; the Senate votes tomorrow on whether to proceed to debate on the floor with the DOD bill. Meanwhile, as critics of the DREAM Act—which provides legal status to qualifying undocumented youth who have graduated high school and want to attend college or join the military—continue to decry that it is “extraneous” and “has nothing to do” with the military, a host of former military personnel heralded the DREAM Act as a smart way to recruit capable, mission-ready soldiers.

On Sunday, former Gen. Colin Powell made an appearance on Meet the Press to urge Republicans to stop throwing progressive legislation—like the DREAM Act—under the bus in the name of politics.

They’ve [Republicans] got to take a hard look at some of the positions they’ve been taking. We can’t be anti-immigration, for example, because immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants, America would be like Europe or Japan with an aging population and no young people coming in to take care of it. We have to educate our immigrants … the DREAM Act is one way we can do this.

America is going to be a minority nation in one more generation. Our minorities are not getting educated well enough now. Fifty percent of our minority kids are not finishing high school. We’ve got to invest in education. We should use the DREAM Act as one way to do it …

Meanwhile, those who have made it their mission to stymie any progressive legislation in this administration have repeatedly stated that the DREAM Act, which they lovingly refer to as “illegal alien amnesty,” has no place on the Defense authorization bill. Unfortunately for them, the Department of Defense’s Office of the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness actually recommended the passage of the DREAM Act in their FY2010-12 Strategic Plan, calling it a “smart way” to “sustain quality assurance” when recruiting an all volunteer force.

Numerous former military personnel, such as retired Lieutenant Colonel, Margaret Stock, have publically endorsed the DREAM Act as a benefit to the U.S. Armed Forces:

Passage of the DREAM Act would directly benefit American national defense by enlarging the pool of highly qualified, US-educated ‘green card’ recruits for the US Armed Forces. Rather than having these US-educated young people sent back to countries they can’t remember–where they will no doubt be forced to serve in foreign militaries and other foreign organizations–they can put their talents to use for the benefit of the American people and the All Volunteer Force.

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed with the DOD bill which determines whether the DREAM Act and other amendments make it to the floor. Hopefully, voters will take note of the senators who may oppose cloture tomorrow—especially those who voted for it in 2007 when the DREAM Act was attached to the defense authorization measure—and remember their flip-flop come election day.

Watch Colin Powell:

Photo by Charles Haynes.