Ranking Democrat seeks legal status for illegal immigrants in military

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee proposed a budget amendment Wednesday evening that would give some illegal immigrants serving in the military permanent legal status.

“If an individual has been in the United States since a young age, and is committed enough to join the military, then they should be provided with the opportunity to become a permanent legal resident. It’s that simple,” Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Shanahan orders new restrictions on sharing of military operations with Congress: report Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked MORE (D-Wash.) said in a statement Thursday.

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The committee ruled that the amendment could not be considered because it was not within the committee's jurisdiction, but Smith said he would continue to push the measure.

The amendment would have allowed immigrants who came to the United States illegally before the age of 15 and served in the armed forces to apply for permanent legal status.

“There is no better way for a young individual who feels a strong sense of connection to this country to become a citizen than to serve in the armed forces. My amendment will provide that opportunity, and I will continue to work to attempt to overcome the procedural hurdles to this bill," Smith said.

The amendment was modeled after the "ENLIST Act" put forward by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a statement by Smith's office said.