WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department's manpower chief says a measure to legalize young immigrants who came to the United States illegally is an obvious way to attract more high-quality recruits to the armed forces. 

Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, says it would be unconscionable not to enact the so-called Dream Act. It would give hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16 a chance to gain legal status if they joined the military or attended college. 

But it faces long odds in Congress, where most Republicans and a handful of Democrats regard it as backdoor amnesty for lawbreakers. 

Democrats' bid to advance it is likely to fail in a Senate vote scheduled for Wednesday.