On Thursday, the U.S. House voted 221-202 to block a measure that would have permitted the Pentagon to consider allowing young immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, but who were granted temporary legal status by President Obama’s immigration executive order, to enlist in the military. Although the provision to let DREAMers serve in the military had the support of several Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, it floundered on the House floor with 221 Republicans voting to block considering DREAMers for military service. 20 House Republicans joined 182 Democrats in supporting allowing DREAMers to serve in the military.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) spearheaded the opposition to DREAMers in the military. He argued:
This Congress should support and represent Americans by voting to stop military service opportunities from being taken from struggling American families in order to give them to illegal aliens.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) countered that the Republican Party was caving to hardliners on immigration, stating:
But no matter how many times Republican Leaders have appeased the hardliners on the fringes of their right flank — to disastrous consequence — they have chosen to capitulate one more time and ruled last night that amendments to strip the bill of these reasonable studies will be go forward.
It is another glaring example of why the Republicans – from their Presidential nominee all the way down to their local government candidates — are in very, very deep trouble when it comes to the immigration issue.
One amendment simply asked the Secretary of Defense to study the impact of letting immigrants who grew up for years in the United States, who have passed a criminal background check and who have a legal work permit — it asked the Secretary of Defense to study whether including them in military recruitment would help diversify our military.
The second did not call for any action, but simply stated that it is the “Sense of Congress” that the Secretary review whether recipients of deferred action for childhood arrivals be allowed to serve in the military.
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also weighed in. Hillary for America’s national political director Amanda Renteria spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton, stating:
If these courageous young men and women want to serve, they should be honored and celebrated, not discriminated against.
According to the Immigration Policy Center, over 100,000 foreign-born people were serving in the U.S. military in 2009. Approximately 12,000 of them had not entered the country legally.
Immigrants who arrived illegally as children, but who are willing to serve in the U.S. military, should be granted the opportunity to defend the country they call home. Many arrived here through no fault of their own, and they have become productive and patriotic citizens. Giving them the opportunity to serve the country they love is common sense politics. Unfortunately, the GOP has become too staunchly anti-immigrant to adopt common sense policies. The Republicans need to set aside their prejudices and permit these young men and women to serve in the military.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.