Veterans in the US military have urged Congress to deal with some aspects of immigration reform even as lawmakers begin debating the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendments to the act in question, which the veterans have come out in support of, include one that calls on the Pentagon to contemplate recruiting young undocumented immigrants who have received deferred action and one that would enable immigrants to gain legal status by serving in the US military.
“Veterans are a key demographic in America, and throughout our history, the military has reflected the fact that we are a nation of immigrants,” the letter from Veterans for Immigration Reform states. “They are also a group disproportionately impacted by the current broken immigration system.”
The letter pointed out that over 65,000 immigrants, 30,000 of whom have permanent legal status in the United States, were already serving in the military as of 2013, which represents around five percent of the entire force. The letter states that Veterans for Immigration Reform wants to see the nation’s broken immigration system fixed and comprehensive immigration reform passed. The group also notes that doing so would benefit the military by maximizing the pool of possible service members available.
“This is the right thing to do for our national security, the future of our military, our veterans and our nation,” the letter concludes. The document was signed by veterans from Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Arizona and Nebraska, including Arizona US Representatives, Richard Andrade and Mark Cardenas.