Reps. Greg Stanton, Ruben Gallego’s bills would let DACA recipients serve in military 

By Rafael Carranza || The Arizona Republic

Two Arizona Democrats this week introduced bills in Congress that if passed would allow undocumented youth brought as children to the United States the ability to work in Congress and to enlist in the U.S. military.

On Tuesday, Reps. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., introduced the American Dream Employment Act. It would end an employment ban in place that limits jobs to U.S. citizens and legal residents with a pathway to citizenship. That prohibits recipients of Deferred Action or Temporary Protected Status.

Reps. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., filed a bill on Wednesday that would allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients to enlist and serve in any branch of the U.S. armed forces, and would provide them with a pathway toward citizenship once their services ends.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has been in place since 2012. But its future is still uncertain a full decade after it took effect. There are nearly 590,000 active DACA recipients, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It would not grant legal status in the country, but it does shield recipients from deportation and provides them work permits. The program has been challenged in court, and a ruling on its legality is expected at any moment.

The two bills face several hurdles. Both need the backing of some Republican lawmakers because the GOP controls the majority of votes in the House and sets the chamber’s agenda. And Republicans are fixated on border security concerns and have shown little appetite for compromise bills that could establish pathways to citizenship. Any House-passed bill also would require support in the closely divided Senate.


“Representatives Stanton and Gallegos’ bills are reasonable and important. Anyone willing to put their life on the line in service of our Armed Forces should be welcomed with open arms as a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States. While Immigration bills are often the target of partisan politics, DACA and supporting our troops are two areas where enough common ground can be found to get something done!” – Darius Amiri, Rose Law Group Immigration Law Dept. Chair

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March 2023