Originally published by Politico
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday called for legislation offering a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who are serving or have served in the military, arguing that such a bill is not only in line with the nation’s values but also with its military priorities.
“All of those undocumented immigrants, through their willingness to shed blood to protect the rest of us, have earned the right to call themselves ‘American citizen,’” Gates wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “Let us honor them this Veterans Day. But let’s also give them a pathway to citizenship. Our military will be the better for it. So will the country.”
Gates wrote that more than 800 people currently serving in the U.S. military are so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children, and an additional 350 have signed Army contracts and are awaiting basic training. Their ability to serve, granted by an Obama-era program that offers work permits to Dreamers, is now in jeopardy because of President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the program in the hope that Congress will codify it into law.
Dreamer service members have proven themselves especially adept in the military, Gates wrote, with lower attrition rates and language skills that have been invaluable to special operations units.
Gates also recalled the naturalization ceremonies for military members that he attended as secretary of defense. He wrote that during his tenure as secretary, more than 45,000 military members became U.S. citizens and that he “was honored to serve alongside all of them, and humbled by their sense of duty, by their willingness to risk life and limb for a country they yearned to call their own.”
“In light of the service and sacrifice of those immigrants — legal or not,” Gates wrote, offering them citizenship “is also the right thing to do.”
Read more: www.politico.com/story/2017/11/09/robert-gates-daca-military-service-244736