Advocates for immigration faced yet another setback on Thursday when lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted to remove an amendment to enable deferred action recipients to join the military. Arizona representative Ruben Gallego included the amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, only to see it removed; meanwhile, the House did not see fit to include California Republican representative Jeff Denham’s amendment, which would have allowed some undocumented immigrants to gain legal status in the United States by serving in the military.
“The House has done a disservice to our military by removing bipartisan immigration provisions from the defense bill,” says the Arizona and National Veterans Coordinator for the organization Veterans for Immigration Reform, Brett Hunt, who is himself a veteran. “These provisions would have helped ensure that the military had the best recruits, immigrants as well as US citizens. Instead, for political reasons, Congress chose today to limit our military.”
Arizona veteran Cory Harris was equally furious, releasing a statement saying that Congress was effectively telling Dreamers willing to risk their lives for their adopted country that they are neither needed nor wanted. Harris described the decision as a “wasted opportunity”.
Before the decision was reached a letter was sent to the House of Representatives by Veterans for Immigration Reform, pointing out that in 2013 there were over 65,000 immigrants actively serving the US military, including 35,000 legal residents. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the decision another example of House Republicans’ anti-immigrant attitude.