Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Friday accused President Barack Obama of favoring illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens by allowing them to join the U.S. military, and said the move is a blow to the thousands of Americans who are being forced to leave the military.
"The president is launching a new effort to recruit illegal immigrants and visa overstays for the military at a time when thousands of career military personnel are facing layoffs — meaning that the president’s recruitment program will directly displace American military personnel," he said. "Military service is a high calling, and a noble career, and is most certainly not a job Americans won't do."
President Barack Obama is being criticized for opening up the military to some illegal immigrants, even as many U.S. citizens are being forced to retire from the military. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
USA Today and other papers reported this week that the Defense Department has put out a new rule that will allow some illegal immigrants to join the military. The rules expand a program that let the military bring on immigrants with certain skills, such as fluency in a certain language.
Those reports said the expansion will open up the military to immigrants who qualify under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Sessions said the move is just the latest effort by Obama to weaken U.S. immigration rules, and could be followed by an announcement from Obama after the mid-terms to create a legal status for millions of other illegal immigrants. Sessions said that both decisions will make it harder for Americans to find work.
"In our economy, like our military, we have a shortage of jobs — not a shortage of workers," he said. "Instead of circumventing the law to eliminate our immigration controls, any president who cares about the rule of law would instead be taking lawful, constitutional executive actions to restore those laws and end the illegality."
Sessions, one of the more vocal opponents of Obama's immigration plans, said the administration should instead be working to secure the border, stop giving illegal immigrants child tax credits, and end the abuse of the technical visa work program that has cost Americans thousands of jobs.
Word of Obama's plan for the military came out in the same week that a report was releasing showing that one in six adults in the U.S. is foreign-born, and that the number of immigrants living in the U.S. hit a record high 41.3 million people.