Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2015

Durbin: Pentagon Should Allow DREAMers to Enlist in Armed Forces

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(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.

In his statement, Durbin compared the predicament of the dreamers to the case of the late Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who was Durbin’s predecessor on the Defense subcommittee.

Inouye was a member of the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, tens of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps. Despite being labeled ‘enemy aliens,’ many young Japanese-Americans volunteered to fight in World War II,” Durbin recalled. “The 442nd Regimental Combat team, an all Japanese-American unit, suffered the most casualties in the European campaign and was also the most decorated unit of its size in the history of the United States military.”

Inouye told his own story in a moving floor speech back on Dec. 7, 2011, 60 years to the day after Pearl Harbor.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=SikRVCkDG5E

Durbin then recalled Inouye’s comments about the DREAM Act.

“I will never forget Sen. Inouye’s reaction. He said, ‘By allowing the DREAM Act to sit idle, we extinguish hope for a lot of people and deny too many the opportunity I was given,'” Durbin said.

The House is scheduled to take up the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill this week, but Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., is not going to be allowed to offer an amendment known as the ENLIST Act that would create a legal status pathway for illegal immigrants who have served in the military.

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  1. Pamela

    May 19, 2014
    5 p.m.

    Americans of Japanese descent. They were Americans. ILLEGALS ARE NOT AMERICANS. They aren’t even LEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

    We owe ILLEGALS NOTHING, but DEPORTATION.

    Plus, this tiresome BS of having to listen to the constant rants about “internment” camps, Emmit Till, slavery, the holocaust, all which were horrific, but they are all ANCIENT HISTORY. Yes, we should remember the past, but the left constantly uses the same few bad things of ANCIENT HISTORY, to try to guilt trip Americans, into something. The fact, that they bring up the same few bad things, but never talk about the THOUSANDS of GOOD THINGS AMERICA, and U.S. CITIZENS have done, and still does, shows the true real hatred the LEFT, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have for this United States, and our American countrymen.

    ILLEGALS must be punished for their CRIMES, and sins, that they continue to commit every day, against our American citizens, and this SOVEREIGN UNITED STATES. That punishment is DEPORTATION, nothing more, and nothing less.

    TRAITORS like DURBIN, deserve severe punishment for their treason.

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