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Immigration issue removed from defense policy bill

On May 14, a provision that would have helped immigrants in South Carolina to serve in the military was removed from Congress' yearly defense policy bill. The vote to remove the provision was 221-202. Although Democrats were largely in favor of keeping the provision, Republicans were divided on the issue of allowing undocumented immigrants to serve in the military.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona, wrote the provision that was struck down from the defense policy bill. If included in the bill, the provision would have asked the Pentagon to look into the idea of allowing immigrants without U.S. citizenship who arrived in the country as children to enlist in the armed forces. The $612 billion defense policy bill covered a range of military issues, and some Republicans argued that including a provision about an immigration issue was inappropriate.

The dispute over Rep. Ruben Gallego's provision opened up an immigration debate that many people believe could turn into an election issue. Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi both issued statements denouncing the decision to strike down the provision. Republicans who voted against the provision argued that supporting the provision would have legitimized Obama's executive immigration actions.

Some immigrants who have served in the U.S. military are able to qualify for expedited naturalization. An individual who believes that their military service may allow them to become naturalized might want to speak to an immigration attorney about their situation. If it is not possible to become naturalized through qualifying military service, an attorney can look into other available paths to citizenship.

Source: Fox News, "House GOP strips immigration language from defense bill," May 14, 2015

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