A push to give young immigrants who serve in the US military legal status in the country is reviving the debate over immigration reform in the House of Representatives and dividing the Republican Party in the process. Republicans who are in favor of loosening immigration laws are attempting to add the measure to this year’s defense policy bill.
The measure would offer undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before the age of 15 and who subsequently join the military a pathway to permanent residency. However, supporters are encountering opposition from hardliners who are against all forms of immigration reform. “It is very frustrating to hear controversy from members who have never served their country and don’t understand the impact that immigrants have had on our freedoms,” says Californian Republican Jeff Denham, a veteran of the Air Force who helped sponsor the amendment.
Immigration legislation in the House of Representatives was shelved by Speaker John Boehner in a bid to prevent the issue from dividing the Republican Party during election year and infuriating immigrant and Latino voters, but it was resurrected of late when members who are against the overhaul tried to thwart the new act.
The defense bill is expected to be drafted by the House Armed Services Committee early next month and is likely to hit the floor of the House of Representatives by May 19th. The result is expected to be a very public fight the likes of which Boehner was hoping to avoid.