House Republicans’ Secret Immigration Ploy

Matthew Boyle and Jonathan Strong, Breitbart, April 2, 2014

House Republicans are quietly working to insert immigration legislation into the text of the Department of Defense authorization bill that would allow so-called DREAMers to obtain permanent legal residency by joining the military, Breitbart News has learned.

The language, which if successful would mark the first effort by House Republicans to provide any form of amnesty since the GOP took control of the House in 2010, has set off a panic among top immigration hawks that the effort could open an immigration Pandora’s box, paving the way for broader legislation.

Sophomore Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of California, a close ally of GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, is leading the push to add the text of his “ENLIST Act” into the National Defense Authorization Act, which could come to the House floor as early as next month.

The effort, which has not previously been reported, is fairly advanced, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte–who killed the proposal as an amendment to last year’s NDAA in a dramatic floor struggle–is weighing whether to approve the maneuver, which would circumvent his committee on one of its key matters of jurisdiction.

“We’re working on it,” Goodlatte said.

Meanwhile, top immigration hawks ripped the proposal as ill-conceived and a clear effort to build momentum for a comprehensive immigration bill.

“If we’re going to put out the bait, which is: come into the U.S., break in, so to speak, smuggle yourself into the military, put on the uniform of the United States, take an oath to uphold our Constitution, which may or may not mean anything to them, and now we’re going to reward you with citizenship–I think it’s just a bizarre thing to do, to reward people for breaking our laws. That’s what amnesty is,” said Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King.

“As soon as they raise their hand and say ‘I’m unlawfully present in the United States,’ we’re not going take your oath into the military, but we’re going to take your deposition and we have a bus for you to Tijuana. That’s the law. Are they going to then suspend the law that requires ICE to place people into removal proceedings that are unlawfully present?” he added.

{snip}

Denham, who was the first Republican to co-sponsor a Democratic immigration bill modeled after the Senate Gang-of-Eight legislation that passed last year, is pushing to add the language to the “base” NDAA bill–meaning it would not get its own vote.

A House Armed Services Committee aide said Chairman Buck McKeon hadn’t committed to including the language in the bill, which runs through his committee. McKeon, on his way to the House floor to vote, declined to comment.

{snip}

Overall, the stand-alone bill has 42 cosponsors, including 24 Republicans. {snip}

The bill says illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. since 2011 and came to the U.S. before they were 15 years old could enlist in the military, upon which he would receive permanent legal status.

The alien’s status would be revoked if he was discharged from the military on anything but “honorable” terms.

Legal permanent residents can apply for citizenship after residing in the U.S. for five years, or three if they are married to a U.S. Citizen.

{snip}

Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, added in an email to Breitbart News that this could be a “Trojan Horse” for a larger amnesty.

“Harry Reid hasn’t even sent the Gang of Eight bill to the House, because he knows it would be struck down on procedural grounds alone–it raises revenue and only bills that start in the House can do that,” Krikorian said in an email. “By including an amnesty provision–however small–in the defense bill, the House leadership would create the opportunity for Reid to insert the Senate bill and send it to the House. It would become a Trojan Horse for amnesty.”

King, who came to learn of the secretive effort in an interview, said he will offer an amendment to the NDAA bill to strip it of the immigration provisions and work diligently to kill the proposal.

“I can’t let something like this happen. I can’t let it happen,” King said.

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