Congress to battle over undocumented immigrants in military

FLAGHard-line anti-immigration Republicans in Congress are in dispute with colleagues in their own party who represent areas with large Hispanic populations. This time the issue is not a shutdown of the federal government; instead, it is funding for the US military.

In the coming week the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republican Party, is expected to do battle over provisions that have been included in the annual authorization bill for the Department of Defense, with these provisions potentially giving undocumented immigrants who have seen their deportation postponed by deferred action the chance to serve in the US military. The expected showdown highlights the difficulty faced by the Republicans in challenging Obama’s deferred action programs, which have gained bipartisan support.

The House Armed Services Committee has already adopted two amendments proposed by the Democrats that could give young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to join the US military, making the defense authorization bill an unlikely choice for a battle over immigration. One of the representatives supporting the bill amendments proposed by Arizona’s Ruben Gallego is Colorado’s Mike Hoffman, whose district has a large number of Hispanic residents.

Hoffman, who is a combat veteran in the US Marine Corps, says that Dreamers should have the chance to enlist. “I will fight to make sure our effort to encourage military service among Dreamers remains part of the [National Defense Authorization] act,” Hoffman insists. “These kids grew up in this country, went to school here and often know of no other country. I want to give them the same opportunity I had to serve this country.”