Thursday House lawmakers split on proposals that would have kept the Obama administration from allowing illegal immigrants from serving in the military, with about 30 Republicans agreeing with all Democrats to block amendments to a Defense Department spending bill.
Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa and Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, had sought the measures to prohibit federal funding from being used to enlist young illegal immigrants who hold work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA recipients can enlist through the federal Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, which brings in immigrants with foreign language or medical skills. According to Gosar, the Pentagon has confirmed that 141 DACA recipients had been recruited as of April.
The two amendments would have kept the Obama administration from using MAVNI to enlist more, and then quickly insert DACA recipients, and Democrats opposing the provisions tied House Republicans who backed the measures to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“Clearly, House Republicans are taking their anti-immigrant cues from Donald Trump,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, who chairs the House Democrats’ campaign arm,while Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro said backers came “in the spirit of Donald Trump.”
“What we’re seeing with these amendments is part of a larger pattern of hostility toward Hispanic Americans on the part of the Republican Party,” Castro said.
But KIng and Gosar complained that the Obama administration is stretching the MAVNI limits, and King said the program is not there for Obama to use as “a blanket amnesty.”