Here’s Why the ENLIST Act, Amnesty Went Down
This week, the House will vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Conspicuously missing as an amendment to the bill is the ENLIST Act, which would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain amnesty in exchange for military service.
If you’re thinking that amnesty has no place in a defense policy bill, you’re instincts are right. But a look at the battle that was waged over the past couple weeks to stop this misstep demonstrates that were it not for conservative opposition, that’s precisely what Washington politicians would have done.
On May 5, the Heritage Action South Central Regional Coordinator, Wade Miller, a Marine combat veteran wrote, “It is both an honor and a benefit to be a part of the military — it certainly should not be treated as a punishment.” This clarified, from a first hand perspective, how detrimental this move would be for the military.
Beyond the fact that the ENLIST Act and the NDAA are totally unrelated, ENLIST is simply terrible policy, which is why Heritage Action announced on May 6 that we would key vote against the legislation, regardless of how it was packaged or framed.
An effort to legalize illegal immigrants who join the military sputtered weeks ago in committee when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon declined to put it in his defense-authorization bill. But Heritage Action sent out word Wednesday the proposal better stay dead.
To reemphasize our opposition, we released a video on May 16, which includes a clip of Rep. Jeffrey Denham (R-CA) 34% explaining his ENLIST Act is the “fastest pathway to citizenship.”
At that time, the AP noted the growing conservative opposition to ENLIST:
But in recent weeks prominent conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, announced their opposition. Heritage Action, the group’s political arm, announced it would include the vote in its ratings on lawmakers and called Denham’s legislation “deplorable.”
“Once again we saw the conservative policy position carry the day in the House. The ENLIST Act would have had a negative impact on our military and our immigration system,” Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler remarked. “But Americans understand there are no permanent victories in Washington, so they’ll be watching the Senate closely.”