This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 15

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Week Ending May 15

This week in immigration reform: provision in support of allowing undocumented immigrants to serve in the military voted down; NCLR continues blog series on deferred action recipients; and recently released policy agenda highlights Latino priorities and the importance of the Latino vote.

Amendment to defense policy bill strips language in support of allowing DREAMers to serve in the military: This week the House of Representatives voted on amendments to and final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill to fund the military. In committee, a bipartisan group approved an amendment by Congressman Gallego (D-Ariz.) to encourage the Pentagon to consider allowing DREAMers to serve in the military. However, when the NDAA came to the floor late this week, Alabama Republican Congressman Brooks offered an amendment to strip out Gallego’s language. A NPR piece quotes Republican Congressman Coffman (R-Colo.): “I’m disappointed in my colleagues for fighting this. I’m not sure why they’re so opposed to this. I’ve been in the Congress side by side with people who are opposed to this, but yet they themselves didn’t want to serve. These young people ought to have the opportunity to serve.” The Brooks amendment passed 221-202. All Democrats who voted opposed the Brooks amendment, along with 20 Republicans. The NDAA passed the House this morning 269-151. Other House Republicans have voiced support for legislation to allow DREAMers to serve in the military, including Congressman Denham (R-Calif.), who re-introduced the ENLIST Act in April.

NCLR Blog features DACA recipient Jesus Chavez: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series tells the story of Jesus Chavez, a gay undocumented activist from California’s Central Valley. In spite of his undocumented status, Jesus found a way to attend and afford college, where he was active in student-led immigrant advocate groups. When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, he worked with the on-campus group Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE) to assist other students through the application process. DACA has enabled Jesus to pursue his passion: advocacy for the “undocuqueer.” He currently works at PFLAG, a LGBT civil rights organization. Recently, Jesus received the “Next Generation Award” from Metro Weekly, a D.C.-based LGBT magazine. With DACA, Jesus can continue advocating for his community. Jesus notes, “There are so many undocumented LGBT people who struggle, not only because they’re undocumented, but because they’re out and deal with lots of criticism. We need to keep fighting for what we think is right.”

NCLR releases policy agenda emphasizing Latino priorities: This week NCLR held a press conference to mark the release of a new report, “Investing in our Future: A Latino Policy Agenda for the 114th Congress.” The event featured speakers from the Center for American Progress, Latino Decisions and NCLR. The agenda outlines overarching Latino policy priorities in light of the upcoming 2016 elections. Our blog covering the release notes, “The guide provides policymakers with concrete steps they can take to improve educational and economic outcomes for Latino families, support enrollment in health insurance and move forward on passing comprehensive immigration reform. Latinos are a growing segment of the U.S. population and a critical part of our nation’s future workforce; their success is intrinsically tied to the success of our nation and our future economic prosperity.”  Find out more in our news release, read a summary, and read the report.

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