Recently, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that he would block any attempt to bring the ENLIST Act to the floor as an amendment to an upcoming Defense spending bill. It was believed that the legislation, popular among Democrats, was going to be introduced by Jeff Denham (R-CA.)
The ENLIST Act was introduced by Rep. Denham in June of 2013. If passed, the bill would allow illegal immigrants who entered the United States before age 15 to join the U.S. military. After serving and receiving an Honorable Discharge, they would become legal permanent residents, eligible to apply for citizenship.
Under current law, there are already provisions that provide pathways to citizenship through honorable military service. But under the current law, only immigrants who lawfully entered the country are eligible.
Many who oppose the ENLIST Act believe that it rewards illegal entry into the country, and will only lead to more widespread illegal immigration. Opponents of the act also claim that those who enter and remain in the country illegally do so through dishonesty, and they do not want dishonest service members in the ranks of their military with access to military installations and weapons.
Senate Majority Leader Richard Durban has stated that he would continue to fight for legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to gain citizenship through military service.
“If you are willing to sign up in our military and risk your life for America, you should be given that opportunity,” Sen. Durbin said.
Current House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeonstated his opposition to including the ENLIST Act to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act. McKeon said that he was open to discussion to the legislation, just not on the defense bill. McKeon said it should be presented on the House floor as a stand-alone bill.
Senate Democrats, led by Durban, are debating on whether to add the ENLIST Act to the Senate’s annual defense authorization act.
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Military Connection: ENLIST Act: By Debbie Gregory