False Rumors about Draft Registration: We Debunk Them!

January 31, 2008

Social Security
We at the Center on Conscience & War receive many calls regarding rumors about registration for the draft. Some callers believe that failure to register for the draft disqualifies them from Social Security benefits, saying that they heard this from their financial aid counselors. Information like this concerns young men, including many conscientious objectors, who are faced with the government telling them to register for the draft.

The fact is, though, failure to register does NOT disqualify you from Social Security. What these young men are hearing is rumor, nothing more.

Other Federal Benefits
What might explain the reason why people might believe the rumor about Social Security? The answer is that failure to register between the ages of 18 and 26 does disqualify you from some things from the federal government. The first concern is the inability to get federal financial aid for college and state financial aid tied to federal eligibility. This means that male students who do not register for the draft will not be able to get such federal aid as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. Some state colleges also will not admit you if you cannot show proof of draft registration.

The second concern regarding nonregistration is that nonregistrants are ineligible for employment in the executive branch of the federal government. Such places nonregistrants would not be able to find jobs are agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Labor or law enforcement organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Secret Service. This does not mean, however, that one cannot be on the staff of a member of Congress, a Congressional committee, or a page, or working on the staff of a Federal Court, a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice, or a public defender. These jobs are in the legislative and judicial branches.

The third concern is that many states will not let you get a driver’s license without registration. Other states will register you automatically when you apply for a driver’s license. Additionally, some state and local governments will not hire you as government employees.

Undocumented Immigrants
Another common issue raised by callers comes from people living in the United States without immigration documents. They fear that if they register for the draft they will be prosecuted for violation of immigration law. (Some people believe US law does not require undocumented immigrants to register for the draft, but this also is false.) When CCW staff have talked with staff of the Selective Service, they have always assured us this concern is unwarranted. Selective Service is not a law enforcement agency, and they want everyone subject to the draft to register. If you are undocumented and registration does not conflict with your conscience, just leave the place for the social security number blank.

This brings us to the next problem that will affect some nonregistrants. Failure to register for the draft disqualifies you from US citizenship. If you are an undocumented immigrant unaware of this and fail to register by the time you turn 26, you are permanently barred from naturalization processes.

The draft is clearly burdensome on people throughout the United States. If Congress and the president are sincere that they are not going to begin drafting people, then they should repeal the draft law and dismantle the Selective Service System. It would save taxpayer money, remove an administrative headache, remove a threat to our civil liberties, and abolish an inherently unfair system.

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