Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) criticized Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and the “extreme element” of the Republican Party for stripping his amendment to the defense authorization bill that allowed “DREAMers” to serve in the military.
“People in this country, whether they are DREAMers or undocumented, are subject to the draft. For us, the idea that a DREAMer cannot choose what military branch to go into seems ridiculous,” Gallego said on a Friday conference call with illegal immigrant rights activists.
Gallego accused Republicans of distorting the intent of his amendment. From his perspective, the amendment dealt with a “manpower issue” rather than an “immigration issue.”
According to the language of the amendment, the defense secretary could authorize an undocumented immigrant who received employment authorization under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to serve in the armed forces.
Brooks sponsored an amendment that eliminated Gallego’s language from the defense reauthorization bill. He called the amendment’s passage a great victory for Americans and lawful immigrants who wish to serve in the military.
“I asked my colleagues to consider how much American families are struggling in an anemic job and wage market and how much the Gallego amendment makes job and income prospects for Americans even worse,” Brooks said.
“It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are congressmen who seek to help illegal aliens deprive American citizens and lawful immigrants of military service opportunities. I’m pleased the House chose to stand up for American citizens and protect the constitutional duty of Congress to set immigration law,” he added.
Gallego said the Brooks amendment demonstrates hatred toward illegal immigrants who want to serve in the U.S. military.
“It really does show that the extreme element of the Republican Party has a high disregard for the service of DREAMers and vitriol – a hatred that they have for these DREAMers who are serving their country now and want to serve their country in the future,” he said on the call.
In a House floor speech, Brooks said 92,000 positions in the armed forces were eliminated over the past 5 years.
“This year, 28,000 military positions will be eliminated. Over the next 4 years, another 38,000 military positions will be cut. Between 2010 and 2019, the Armed Forces will eliminate a total of 158,000 uniformed personnel positions, thereby costing American citizens and lawful immigrants 158,000 military service opportunities,” he said.
“Each year, there are a limited number of enlistment opportunities. Each time Gallego’s amendment helps an illegal alien enlist, an American or lawful immigrant loses, loses an enlistment opportunity. The ratio is one-to-one. Period. That is the math,” Brooks added.
In the last session of Congress, the Senate passed a bill that included a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the country, while the House did not pass immigration reform legislation.
Gallego explained that he supports an “earned pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants living in the country, provided that they pay a fine and pass a background check.
“I’m a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. I think we need to have a solution that works for the 11 million people that are undocumented in this country,” he said.