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A New Amendment Could Prevent the Deportation of Dreamers in the Military

A congressional committee moved on Wednesday to bar the Trump administration from deporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who served in the military. The appropriations amendment, introduced by Representative Pete Aguilar (D-California), would prevent funds from being used to deport DACA recipients who are either veterans or on active military duty.

The amendment—riding on the back of a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill—passed in the House Appropriations Committee with no opposition. A vote on the bill is due later on Wednesday.

"Dreamers who serve deserve to know they have a future in the country they've risked their lives to defend," Aguilar wrote on Twitter.

The legislation follows weeks of controversy over news that the military has been quietly discharging immigrants from its ranks. Military service has, for years, offered immigrants an expedited path to citizenship; a program created by the George W. Bush administration recruited immigrants with language and medical skills. Despite that promise, immigrants who find themselves discharged can face the threat of deportation. Ignoring a directive from Secretary of Defense James Mattis not to deport veterans, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has detained at least one man—a Chinese national—who enlisted in the United States Army.

While immigrants discharged from the military can find their legal status in jeopardy, active duty members of the U.S. military are typically protected from the threat of deportation, as individuals must show proof that they are in the country legally before they can enlist.

However, even active duty DACA recipients could face the threat of deportation, as the fate of the DACA program—and consequently DACA recipients' legal immigration status—currently wallows in a legal limbo.

A legacy of the Obama era, DACA offers protected status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. However, the legal status of DACA recipients—also known as Dreamers—has been uncertain for months as the Trump administration pushes to the end the program.