Former Pentagon chief: Immigrant troops should have pathway to citizenship

Former Pentagon chief: Immigrant troops should have pathway to citizenship
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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an op-ed published Wednesday calls for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants serving in the military, arguing that ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program hurts the armed services.

“Being an American is more than just passing an exam about United States history and the Constitution,” Gates wrote in The New York Times. “It is more than one’s knowledge and beliefs. Being an American is also about a willingness to put oneself in harm’s way to defend the country.”

President Trump in September said he planned to rescind DACA, which provided nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children with work permits and deferral from deportation. Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCampaign staffers sue Illinois Dem governor candidate over alleged racial discrimination Bipartisanship is a greater danger than political polarization GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost MORE authorized the protections in 2012. 


Gates, who led the Pentagon during the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, wrote that more than 800 “Dreamers” who benefitted from DACA are now serving in the military. 

If the program expires, those recruits’ permits will expire, and they will not be eligible to serve, Gates said.

Legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are serving or have served in the armed forces will help the military recruit new service members, Gates added.

“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. “Let us honor them this Veterans Day. But let’s also give them a pathway to citizenship. Our military will be better for it. So will the country.”