House blocks attempt to ban undocumented immigrants in military

On Thursday, the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republican Party, narrowly blocked an effort to have young undocumented immigrants prevented from joining the military.

Representative Paul Gosar tried to introduce the amendment to the year’s defense spending bill, wanting to close what he described as “a backdoor amnesty program” created by President Barack Obama without Congressional approval, but the attempt was just defeated by 211-210 votes.

The possible recruits in question came to the US when they were children and are safe from the threat of deportation thanks to the Obama administration’s Deferred Action program. They are also eligible for temporary work permits that can be renewed every two years so long as certain requirements are met.

It is nearly two years since the announcement by the Pentagon that beneficiaries of the program would be able to join a trial program that had previously only been accessible to legal immigrants with unique cultural, language, and medical skills. A compromise to enable any immigrant to join up, including beneficiaries of the Deferred Action program if it was in the national interest, was approved by the House Armed Services Committee several weeks ago.

Gosar said that 141 undocumented immigrants have joined the military using that path, but that it was never supposed to be used in such a manner. Iowa Representative Steve King agreed with Gosar, noting that it was another example of the President taking unilateral action on immigration reform.