Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego's proposal to let "dreamers" serve in the military was shot down by the House of Representatives yesterday.
The House voted 221-202 in favor of an amendment proposed by Republican Congressman Mo Brooks, of Alabama, to strip Gallego's proposal from the National Defense Authorization Act.
"There was no reason to have this fight; this amendment should not have been controversial," Gallego says in a statement. "But Mr. Brooks and his band of extreme, anti-immigrant Republicans put their extreme politics ahead of the best interest of our military and our country."
Gallego's amendment to the bill encouraged he 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.
In the vote before the full House to strip Gallego's amendment, 20 Republicans joined the 182 Democrats in voting to keep Gallego's proposal. Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally of southern Arizona, a retired United States Air Force Colonel, was one of those 20 Republicans.
"The strength of our military isn't just measured by the size of our arsenal or by the sophistication of our weapons but by the quality of our people," said Gallego, an Iraq War veteran. "I would have been proud to serve beside these young men and women."
Although Gallego's amendment wouldn't have forced the Department of Defense to take in these "dreamers," it would have encouraged the department to do so.
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"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.'"
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