Immigration bill offers pathway to citizenship through military service

A comprehensive immigration reform bill is looking less likely to pass before midterm elections this fall, but one house Republican is pushing hard to open up a pathway for some young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Republican California Representative Jeff Denham proposed the piece of legislation dubbed the Enlist Act and if passed, it would provide a pathway to citizenship through military service. Communication coordinator for immigrant advocacy group LUPE, John-Michael Torres says many in the Rio Grande Valley are ready and willing to serve. "There are dreamers that right now, if they were able to sign up for the military, they would be there to sign up, Torres said. While a vote on the Enlist Act was struck down on Friday, supporters of the bill are now aiming to tack it on to the defense authorization measure that the house will consider in May. While many politicians in Washington don't want to take up immigration reform, Torres is hopeful. "There is a small chance of passing something in these four month. It's going to take all of us to work toward that to call on the house republican leadership to action to move forward with immigration policy, Torres said. Recent reports point to a drastic increase in illegal crossings in south Texas, proof, Torres says, there's an urgent need for immigration reform. "What is essential to providing a safe way for people to come into the U.S. and to alleviate the type of illegal crossings that are happening in the RGV is an immigration reform that provides the safe legal means of entering the U.S.," Torres said. Torres argues simply adding more Border Patrol agents won't solve the problem. "If they end up also brining more funding for increased militarization to this part of the border, we will definitely see it become more dangerous to cross, we will see an increase in deaths along this part of the border as well."The Enlist Act would allow immigrants who were brought to this country on or before Dec. 31, 2011, and were younger than 15 years old to become legal, permanent residents through honorable service in the military.
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