The Defense Department said Monday it is looking at expanding its application pool by letting some young illegal immigrants join the military, in what could be another tool for an Obama administration seeking unilateral steps to take on immigration reform.
Immigrant rights advocates are pleading with the Pentagon to declare “dreamers” to be vital to the national interest, which would allow them to enlist in the military under a special program that grants non-immigrants a quick pathway to citizenship in exchange for years of military service.
Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said Monday that the Pentagon is in the middle of that review and hopes to complete it by the end of the summer, and is discussing the proposal with the Justice and Homeland Security departments.
“It’s very important to us that we are in concert to things that the White House thinks are very important, and we do too. So we’re looking to move forward on what ‘vital to the national interest’ means,” Ms. Wright said at a hearing in Chicago.
As movement on a broad immigration bill has stalled on Capitol Hill, immigrant rights advocates and Democrats in Congress have called for President Obama to move unilaterally to deport fewer illegal immigrants. The president has asked his homeland security secretary to review policies, but Monday’s hearing signals that the Pentagon is also part of the effort.