House narrowly rejects proposals to ban DACA recipients from military

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said he would continue to fight for his proposal to prohibit undocumented immigrants from serving in the military, after it was narrowly defeated in the House. (Photo courtesy Clerk of the House)

WASHINGTON – Republicans vowed to continue pushing to keep undocumented immigrants out of the military, after the House this week narrowly defeated two proposals that would have done so.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said he would “never give up the fight” to keep DACA recipients from enlisting.

Gosar sponsored an amendment to the Defense Department budget bill that would have prohibited the use of Pentagon funds to pay salaries of DACA recipients – the administration’s program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“My amendment to block (President Barack) Obama’s backdoor amnesty lost by one vote on the House floor,” Gosar said in a prepared statement after Thursday’s vote.

“I’m incredibly disappointed, but not daunted,” said Gosar, who co-sponsored a similar amendment that also failed. “I will never give up the fight to uphold the rule of law and prevent any attempts by President Obama, or his open-border allies, from enacting executive amnesty.”

The House rejected Gosar’s amendment on a 211-210 vote, while the proposal he co-sponsored with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, failed 214-207.

The proposals were angrily criticized earlier in the week by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who said that not only were they an “attack on the immigrant community” but that they would weaken national security as well.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, welcomed the results of Thursday’s votes.

“I am glad to see that some Republicans are rejecting the tired, anti-immigrant policies promoted by the likes of (likely GOP presidential nominee) Donald Trump,” Gallego said in a prepared statement.

“Now it’s time for those Republicans to take a stand against the far-right wing of their party and start working with Democrats to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

On what were otherwise straight party-line votes, 30 and 33 Repbulicans crossed the aisle to vote against the Gosar and King amendments, respectively,

Gosar and King both said that their amendments would leave intact the MAVNI – Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest- program, which lets noncitizens with needed skills enlist in the Army in order to gain expedited U.S. citizenship.

The president unveiled the DACA program in 2012. It allows immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as as children to delay deportation for two years under certain conditions.

To qualify, an undocumented immigrant must meet age requirements, must have been in the country continuously for a set amount of time, cannot have any serious criminal convictions and must either be in school or have been honorably discharged from the military, among other requirements.

King defended his amendment on the House floor, saying that DACA was an attempt by Obama to circumvent U.S. immigration law and that the age of an immigrant brought into this country is not relevant.

“People that come into this country under DACA have violated the law,” he said during debate on his amendment. “Now whether they were old enough to be aware or not, it’s a matter of law.”