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Rep. Gallego weighs in on DREAMers getting closer to joining military

PHOENIX — An amendment that urges the U.S. secretary of defense to consider allowing deferred action-eligible immigrants to serve in the military has been passed by the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., introduced the Enable DREAMers to Serve in Uniform amendment because DACA grants work permits but does not allow recipients to join the armed forces.

“It is in our national interest to have the best military we can have. The strength of our military isn’t just measured by the size of our arsenal or by the sophistication of our weapons, but by the quality of our people,” Gallego said.

The veteran-turned-politician said DREAMers should be allowed to join the armed forces if they meet all other military standards.

“DREAMers are talented, brave and patriotic individuals who have much to contribute to our armed forces, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to serve our country,” he said. “I fought in Iraq and I know that on the battlefield what matters isn’t whether you have the ‘right’ papers; it’s whether you have the right skills and character.”

Gallego said the fact the amendment passed in the House committee shows there is bipartisan congressional support for allowing DREAMers to serve the U.S. in uniform. The lawmaker, however, said the final decision will be left up to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

“These young men and women are in the country right now, and we hope that if they are motivated that (the secretary of defense) would take them and let them serve the country that they call home,” he said.