(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Senate’s top defense appropriator wants the Pentagon to act on its own to allow some undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military, if the House does not move ahead on immigration legislation.
Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, who is chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, made the comments at a field hearing in Chicago, where he heard testimony from several undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children (known as DREAMers, after legislation Durbin introduced 13 years ago).
“If the House Republicans refuse to move immigration reform, the Defense Department should use its authority under current law to authorize the enlistment of dreamers. Enlisting dreamers is ‘vital to the national interest’ because it would make the armed forces more diverse and inclusive, and it would allow the armed forces to access a well-qualified, educated, homegrown talent pool,” the Illinois Democrat said in his opening statement.