A collection of lawmakers’ from both sides of the aisle spoke out in favor Wednesday of a stand-alone bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military.
The legislation, called the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act of 2013, is sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). “Whatever we can do to broaden our pool of recruits should be done.”
“If somebody is willing to lay their life down for their country, I think they deserve citizenship,” Coffman said during a press conference alongside Representatives Kyrsten Siema (D-Ariz.), David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Louis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
Gutierrez stressed the bipartisan nature of the bill, and said it has been in the works for a long time. He praised the efforts of lawmakers and activists alike and said he will keep fighting until this bill and comprehensive immigration reform are passed.
“I just want to say to all of the DREAMers, we’re here for you, we fought really hard to get deferred action, and you fought really hard to get deferred action, but I want you to remember how you got it,” Gutierrez said. “You spoke up and you marched and you made a commitment and you forced us, because in Washington DC nothing happens…without a consistent and persistent demand from outside of Washington DC. That’s how women got the right to vote. That’s how black people got the right to sit wherever they want on the bus, and that’s how immigrants are going to get their fair share of the American dream and democracy.”
The press conference followed a small demonstration in front of the Capitol held by the DREAM Action Coalition in favor of enlistment for undocumented immigrants.
The DREAM Act, which has failed to pass Congress, grants citizenship to certain young undocumented immigrants who either join the military or attend College.