On Wednesday, the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, authored an Op-ed Opinion in the New York Times that ending DACA will undermine national security efforts. Gates pointed out that more than 800 Dreamers are currently serving in the armed forces. He highlighted that between 2006 through 2011 more than 45,000 immigrants served in the military and later became citizens. Gates went on to say:
“As we observe Veterans Day, we remember with reverence the extraordinary debt we owe to those who have served in uniform and sacrificed, even unto death, for their fellow Americans. This includes the more than 109,000 immigrants who, since Sept. 11, 2001…They have been part of a rarefied group: the 1 percent of Americans — native-born, naturalized and undocumented immigrants alike — who constitute our military. who said he felt “humbled by their sense of duty, by their willingness to risk life and limb for a country they yearned to call their own.”
On Thursday, a group of 17 House Republicans held a press event and called for a legislative solution by the end of the year. Among the Republicans joining in the event: Congressman Pete King (R-NY), Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Congressman John Faso (R-NY), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA), Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA).
The week before some Republicans talked up the possibility of a major immigration bill in 2018. That would appear to move a DACA fix very close to the March expiration. Even if the President extends his repeal deadline, that would play with the lives of thousands of young people. It’s also likely that a battle over a major reform of immigration would make the debates of the ACA and the upcoming tax reform package look more like a party.
The DREAM Act, S. 1615, would offer a pathway to lawful permanent residency for an estimated 1.7 million so-called DREAMers, according to a recent analysis by the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute. The DREAM Act would provide the pathway to legal status for people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at a young age.
According to a recent survey, 97 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed or enrolled in school. More than a third of Dreamers are between the ages of 16 and 20. A Center for American Progress analysis, based on a survey of more than 3,000 DACA recipients in 46 states (the largest survey of DACA recipients to date), found that 45 percent of them are in school, and of those who are in school, 72 percent are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.