Undocumented immigrants may be allowed to join US armed forces

As activists and supportive government officials continually look for ways to provide young undocumented immigrants with a path to American citizenship, the Pentagon is suggesting that the so-called DREAMERs be allowed to enlist in the U.S. armed forces.

According to The New York Times, the proposal would only apply to undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before they were 16 years old and who are law-abiding residents. To be eligible to serve in the armed forces, the youths must have deportation deferrals from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Currently, the Pentagon operates a program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, also known as MAVNI, that permits non-citizens with specialized skills to obtain a temporary visa and serve in the U.S. armed forces. Under the proposed plan, eligible DREAMERs would enter the military through MAVNI and be able to become citizens in as little as three months.

However, given the controversial nature of immigration reform, the White House has asked the Pentagon to temporarily hold off on implementing the program, as Obama administration officials are holding out hope that the Republican-led House of Representatives will pass immigration legislation before the session ends.

“The president is convinced there is a legislative opportunity, and that gives us the best chance to fix what is broken in our immigration system,” Cecilia Munoz, the White House domestic policy advisor, told the source. “He wants to leave no stone unturned to let the House do what it should do.”

Although more than 550,000 deportation deferrals have been issued to DREAMERs in the U.S., if the Pentagon’s proposed program does go into effect, it will likely only affect a small number of them. However, it is only one example of the creative solutions being attempted to provide a path to citizenship for the nearly 1 million DREAMERs who have grown up in America.