South Florida reps Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Republicans, issued a statement opposing an amendment that would prohibit defense funds for being used on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) individuals in the military.
The amendment, sponsored by Paul Gosar (R-AZ), would keep undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States during childhood from serving in the military.
"These DACA individuals often possess critical language, medical, and technical skills needed by our military to accomplish their mission," Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "These young men and women are making a sacrifice for our country - the only country many of them have ever known."
The amendment failed by one vote and 30 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting against it for a 210-211 final tally.
“It’s time that we stop playing politics with the Defense Authorization and ensure that a provision meant to allow military readiness isn’t hijacked in order to provide backdoor amnesty to DACA aliens," Gosar said in a statement. "Sadly, open border advocates have once again put politics ahead of the needs of our men and women in uniform in attempting to enact President Obama’s lawless immigration agenda."
The full text of Curbelo's and Ros-Lehtinen's statement is below:
Today the House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Gosar (AZ) to H.R. 5293, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, FY17. The Gosar Amendment #26 prohibits funds from being used by H.R. 5293 to enlist DACA individuals in the military through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MANVI) program. We believe that this amendment does nothing to make our country safer.
It’s important to note that the Department of Defense is already allowing a small number of immigrants under the President’s DACA executive orders to serve our country through the MANVI program. The Defense Secretary has the authority to fill critical needs in our military, regardless of how the individual may have arrived in the U.S. These DACA individuals often possess critical language, medical, and technical skills needed by our military to accomplish their mission. These young men and women are making a sacrifice for our country - the only country many of them have ever known. The FY17 Defense Appropriations bill being debated this week should be used to address the programs supporting the brave men and women who keep our country safe; not to take tools away from the Defense Secretary.
The young men and women targeted by the Gosar Amendment were brought to our great country very early in life, often by no choice of their own. They have grown up in our neighborhoods and attended the same schools as our own children. For most of these young people, the United States is the only country they have ever called home. They love our country and many of them are serving it honorably. We emphatically urge a NO vote on this amendment in order to continue providing the Defense Secretary the authority to make our armed forces as strong as possible.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)