Immigration Reform News Update: NDAA's Immigration, DACA Amendments Blocked
Immigration reforms advocates encountered another setback from the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. Lawmakers voted to not include an amendment that would allow recipients of President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to enlist in the military.
In a 221-202 floor, the House amended the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to not include the amendment proposed by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. His amendment would call for the Pentagon to consider allowing young immigrants -- specifically DACA recipients -- the opportunity to serve in the military.
The House also did not include an amendment introduced by Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of California. His amendment would include provisions of the ENLIST Act, which allows certain immigrants to serve the military and gain legal status in the U.S.
"The House has done a disservice to our military by removing bipartisan immigration provisions from the defense bill," said Brett Hunt, a U.S. Army Veteran from Arizona and National Veterans Coordinator for Veterans for Immigration Reform. "These provisions would have helped ensure that the military had the best recruits, immigrants as well as U.S. citizens. Instead, for political reasons, Congress chose today to limit our military."
"Dreamers came to this country as children. They know no other country but the United States. And many are willing to put their lives on the line for it by joining the military and defending their country," said U.S. Army Veteran Cory Harris, of Arizona, in a statement. "Congress just told them: 'We don't need your talent. We don't need your courage.' That's a wasted opportunity."
Prior to the vote, House Democratic Whip and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said it would be "common sense" for DREAMers, identified as undocumented immigrant youths who were brought to the U.S. as children, to be rewarded to legally stay in the U.S. for serving the country's military.
As Latin Post reported, the Veterans for Immigration Reform wrote a letter urging the House to adopt Gallego and Dunham's amendments, citing the contributions immigrants provided the military. The letter noted more than 65,000 immigrants, including 30,000 permanent lawful residents, were part of active military duty in 2013, which equates to 5 percent of the force.
"Veterans for Immigration Reform support fixing our broken immigration system and passing broad immigration reform. Immigration reform would keep the pool of potential service members as broad as possible by including the millions of young undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children," the letter read, which was also signed by U.S. State Rep. Mark Cardenas and Richard Andrade of Arizona -- both have served in the military.
"As it was indicated, this is yet another example of anti-immigrant attitude on the part of the House Republicans," said House Minority Leader and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Pelosi continued, "We know that there was a bipartisan bill passed in the Senate that was not even given a chance to be brought to a vote by the House Republicans. We know that they were ready to shut down government when it came to homeland security in order to eliminate the President's administrative actions to protect people in our country -- something that President Reagan did, something that President George Herbert Walker Bush did, President George Bush did. And yet they said it was unconstitutional when President Obama did it."
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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