Pentagon Wants to Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Join Military; Obama Says Not Yet

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

President Barack Obama has stopped, temporarily at least, the Department of Defense’s plan to allow a very small number of undocumented immigrants to join the military and eventually become U.S. citizens.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed allowing young unauthorized immigrants possessing certain skills to enlist in the armed services as a way to earn their citizenship. Such a plan would affect only a “handful” of the more than half a million illegal immigrants facing deportation, according to The New York Times.


Those eligible for the Pentagon’s program, called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, would have to have grown up in the U.S. and possess desired medical or strategic language skills valued by the military. The languages sought include Arabic, Farsi, Hindi and several from Africa.


But the White House asked Hagel to hold off on implementing the program until August, citing political concerns with Congress.


Obama still hopes that House Republicans will adopt immigration reforms this summer. In waiting two months, the president is banking that GOP leaders can broker legislation that would grant legal status to the more than 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.


Some Senate Democratic leaders are critical of Hagel’s plan.


Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-highest-ranking Democrat and a leading proponent granting citizenship to undocumented youths via the Dream Act, would prefer that the military’s path-to-citizenship plan encompass a broader group of young immigrants.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Pentagon Plan to Enlist Young Immigrants Is Delayed at White House’s Request (by Julia Preston, New York Times)

Obama Administration Plans To Let Some Young Undocumented Immigrants Join The Military (by Ryan Reilly and Elise Foley, Huffington Post)

Obama Scores Political Points with Suspension of Deportation of Immigrants Brought to U.S. as Children (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

20,000 Non-Citizens in U.S. Military (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Military Looking for Skilled Immigrants (AllGov)


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