The House of Representatives defeated an effort to ban illegal aliens from serving in the U.S. military Thursday, when over 30 Republicans joined the Democrats to vote down two amendments which would have prohibited federal money from being used to enlist illegal immigrants who have work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
Republican representatives Steve King (IA) and Paul Gosar (AZ) had put forth amendments to keep the illegal “dreamers” from joining the military, but both were voted down, 207-214 and again 210-211, reported The Hill.
Young illegals can qualify under the DACA program if they came to the US as minors, have been in the US since June of 2007, and graduated from high school or obtained a GED, among other requirements.
The Obama administration had already slipped some of these youths in under a program that recruits immigrants with “valued foreign language or medial skills,” called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI).
Democrats tried to tie those who opposed the admission of the dreamers to the “harsh rhetoric” of Donald Trump.
“They come here in the spirit of Donald Trump,” Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) said of the House GOP. “What we’re seeing with these amendments is part of a larger pattern of hostility toward Hispanic Americans on the part of the Republican Party.”
Democrats were opposed to keeping the phrase “illegal alien” in subject headings of the bill. The Library of Congress recently made the decision to eliminate the terms “illegal aliens” and “alien” from its search and subject heading classifications.
Republicans maintained that the phrase simply reflects that some people are in the country illegally. But Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (Calif.) urged fellow Democrats to vote against the spending bill, arguing that the term “perpetuates racism and promotes hate.” (via The Hill)
After the immigration amendments, the House passed the final $575.7 billion defense spending bill, in a 282-138 vote.
However, Obama has threatened to veto the bill, as it includes a ban on moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and prohibits the use of any funds to replace the Guantanamo prison with one in the U.S. This measure, which has been in prior defense bills, has prevented Obama from fulfilling his promise to close the Guantanamo prison.