Veterans Criticize Vote that Excludes Dreamers from Military Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a 221-202 floor vote this evening, the House of Representatives amended the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) so that it does not address allowing Dreamers to enlist.

A bipartisan committee vote last week added an amendment by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) that would have asked the Pentagon to consider allowing young immigrants who are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to serve in the U.S. military. That amendment was stripped from the bill today.

In addition, the House did not add an amendment by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) that would have added the provisions of his ENLIST Act to the bill. Those provisions would allow certain immigrants to serve in the military and gain legal status.

Earlier this week, members of Veterans for Immigration Reform (Vets4Reform) sent a letter to Congress encouraging lawmakers to include these provisions. Today they are expressing their frustration.

“You can’t look at our military’s history without finding thousands of immigrants who have served with valor and loyalty, defending our nation and ensuring our security,” said U.S. Army Veteran David Lucier of Arizona. “With today’s vote, the House turned its back on that rich tradition. We are weaker because of it.”

“Dreamers came to this country as children. They know no other country but the United States. And many are willing to put their lives on the line for it by joining the military and defending their country,” added U.S. Army Veteran Cory Harris, also of Arizona. “Congress just told them: ‘We don’t need your talent. We don’t need your courage.’ That’s a wasted opportunity.”

“The House has done a disservice to our military by removing bipartisan immigration provisions from the defense bill,” said Brett Hunt, a U.S. Army Veteran from Arizona and National Veterans Coordinator for Veterans for Immigration Reform. “These provisions would have helped ensure that the military had the best recruits, immigrants as well as U.S. citizens.  Instead, for political reasons, Congress chose today to limit our military.”