Congressman Gallego Gets Pushback on Military "Dreamers" Proposal

Congressman Ruben Gallego.EXPAND
Congressman Ruben Gallego.

Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego is getting significant pushback from some Republicans over Gallego's proposal to let "dreamers" serve in the military.

G allego offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, encouraging the Department of Defense to allow people to serve if they've been gr anted deportation relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The amendment was passed by the House Armed Services committee, which has a Republican majority.
Despite the fact that these young people are allowed to get work permits in the United States, a group of 25 Republicans led by Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks are making a big stink over Gallego's proposal.

". . . Gallego (D-AZ) offered an amendment that encourages the Secretary of Defense to declare that illegal aliens granted deferred action and work permits under the unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty program are 'vital' to America's national interest," Brooks wrote in a letter to a chairman of the House Rules Committee. "This would have the effect of making them eligible to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces even though they are in the country unlawfully and our military is in the process of downsizing troop levels."

Brooks is asking the House Rules Committee to strip the amendment, which Gallego's office says is an "obscure legislative procedure."

“It would be contrary to the spirit of the rules of the House for the House Rules Committee to strike this amendment behind closed doors, denying an open debate and vote on an amendment that passed with a bipartisan majority in the House Armed Services Committee," Gallego says in a statement.

Gallego wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner complaining about this, and says in the letter that he'd actually encourage a separate debate and vote on the measure by the entire House.

"That would be consistent with the basic principles of regular order and the traditions of the House," Gallego writes in the letter. "It's also a fight I feel confident we could win. Instead, what I and many others would find deeply objectionable is any action to strip out this important provision without meaningful debate and a separate vote on the House floor."

Brooks intends to make that move if the Rules Committee doesn't do it for him.

Gallego's amendment wouldn't force the Department of Defense to take in these "dreamers," but would encourage the department to do so.

"By statute, the Secretary [of Defense] can authorize the enlistment of non-citizens when it is 'vital to the national interest,'" Gallego previously explained. "And enabling the best and brightest in our nation to serve in uniform, including dreamers, is clearly 'vital to the national interest.'"

Gallego, an Iraq War veteran, previously said he "know[s] that on the battlefield what matters isn't whether you have the right papers, it's whether you have the right skills and the right character."

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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