Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stunned immigration advocates after promising to expand President Obama’s immigration actions during a discussion with DACA recipients yesterday.
Republicans, on the other hand, had a much more different outreach approach in mind.
Last week, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) introduced an amendment that would allow DACA recipients to enroll in the military. The Republican-led House Armed Services passed Rep. Gallego’s amendment, even managing to attract six GOP votes in the process.
But yesterday, on the same day Clinton threw her full support behind immigrants, a group of 25 House Republicans, led by Rep. Mo Brooks, wrote a letter asking the House Rules Committee to strike Rep. Gallego’s amendment and slam the door shut on DREAMers who want to serve their country in the military.
In their letter, the GOP lawmakers note that the full House has voted three times to defund DACA and argue Gallego’s text is at odds with the chamber’s “previous position and is a severe threat to passage” of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“Especially in this time of increased terrorism, our national security should not be threatened by allowing such controversial language on a program we have rejected three times as unconstitutional,” the letter said.
In a statement, Rep. Gallego, himself a Marine Corps veteran, slammed the GOP-led effort as nothing more than a nod to the “fringe of the GOP”:
“On the same day that a judge in Arizona ruled in favor of in state tuition for DREAMers, the extreme right of the Republican Party vowed to continue their attack against immigrant communities – including against talented, brave and patriotic dreamers who want to serve in our military and fight for our freedom and the values we hold dear.
“A bipartisan group of members in the House Armed Services Committee passed this amendment and there is no reason to strike it from NDAA other than to appease the fringe of the GOP. In his decision about in-state tuition for DREAMers in Arizona, Judge Arthur Anderson made clear that the Department of Homeland Security considers DACA recipients to be in the country legally and that we cannot create ‘subcategories of lawful presence’.
“This shouldn’t be a controversial issue. The Secretary of Defense has the authority to deem what is in the national interest of the United States, and all we are asking is for him to consider allowing DACA recipients who meet the criteria and want to serve, into our military for that same reason.”
You’d think that letting DREAMers enlist and risk their lives for the only country they call home would be a no-brainer, but the Republican Party’s hostility toward immigrants seems to know no bounds these days.
In fact, following initial passage of Rep. Gallego’s amendment, de-facto House Speaker Steve King called it, “a dark day.” No surprise coming from someone who once told military DREAMers, “we have a bus for you to Tijuana.”
And Rep. Brooks, currently leading this effort to stop DREAMers from serving, once said he’d do “anything short of shooting” undocumented immigrants to stop them from stealing jobs from native-born Americans (a totally false claim, by the way).
As AV’s Frank Sharry said, “Perhaps Steve King is right. It’s a dark day in American history when policymakers try to block aspiring Americans from protecting the country they call home.”