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Military path to citizenship for Dreamers delayed again

Dreamers in Texas and across the country have been looking with hope toward various plans to provide them with a path to citizenship. However, another push to create a path to legalization through military enlistment failed in May 2018 despite support from a group of Congressional Republicans and Democrats. While the measure had sufficient support to pass on the House floor, the Rules Committee blocked a bid to add the provision to the 2018 defense policy bill.

The proposed language would have allowed Dreamers who grew up in the United States to enlist in the military as part of a path to legal status and citizenship. This term applies to immigrants who came to the United States without documents as minors; they are typically blocked from serving in the military due to their undocumented status. However, there are approximately 850 Dreamers in the U.S. military who joined in a 2009 program designed to recruit specialized, skilled non-citizens. The program included people with language skills as well as those with medical training and provided a faster path to citizenship.

Renewed attention was drawn to the program when the Trump administration stated that the legal status of Dreamers would be rescinded. Defense Secretary James Mattis said that qualified enlisted and honorably discharged military members would not need to fear deportation. However, the Trump administration also stated that Congress should pass legislation addressing the issue. Sponsors of the bill noted that denial of their amendment was unusual as tangential items are often attached to the annual defense bill.

People who are undocumented or covered by DACA may be particularly worried about a path to legalization and citizenship at a time when immigration is a frequent subject of debate in American politics. An immigration lawyer may be able to provide important advice and representation to people dealing with citizenship and naturalization concerns.

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