Rep. Gallego introduces bill to provide citizenship pathway via military service for 'Dreamers'

Published: Friday, September 30, 2022 - 5:36pm
Updated: Friday, September 30, 2022 - 5:37pm

A bill introduced this week by U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego would offer a pathway to citizenship to recipients of the Obama-era DACA program, sometimes called "Dreamers," if they serve in the military. 

The bill could affect more than 600,000 people who currently have DACA. The program once protected more than 800,000 undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children, but court rulings have limited who is allowed to apply, and others never qualified. 

Gallego, a Marine veteran and Democrat, told Roll Call the bill would also help address current lags in military recruitment. A program offering U.S. citizenship in exchange for honorable military service was suspended in 2017.

DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and a work permit  — but no pathway to citizenship. Recipients are not currently eligible for military service, either.

Gallego’s bill is one of several Congress attempts to safeguard DACA recipients as a federal appeals court decides whether the program can continue. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals is considering the case after a Texas judge ruled DACA was illegal last year and blocked first-time applicants.