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Representative Jeff Denham

Representing the 10th District of California

Denham Files ENLIST Act, Two Other Amendments to NDAA

May 19, 2014
Press Release
Issues: 

Rep. Tammy Duckworth co-sponsors ENLIST amendment

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) today filed his ENLIST Act, H.R. 2377, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the co-sponsorship of U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). He also filed two additional amendments. One identifies three other immigration-related provisions addressed by the NDAA and strikes each, to highlight the fact that NDAA frequently addresses immigration issues. The third requires a report from the Secretary of Defense on the number of undocumented immigrants who have enlisted in the military and gone on to gain citizenship since the year 2000.

“The ENLIST Act would allow otherwise qualified undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents through no fault of their own to earn legal status through military service,” said Rep. Denham. “It’s a change to military code, not immigration law. Many say the NDAA shouldn’t address immigration – my second amendment identifies three other provisions that touch on the issue. If we want to include immigration in NDAA, then we should also consider the ENLIST Act. The ENLIST Act provides an avenue for those who want to perform the ultimate act of patriotism – serving their county – to earn legal status. As a veteran, I can think of no better way to demonstrate your commitment to our nation.”

“Young people who were brought to America as children and for whom America is their only home deserve the opportunity to pursue citizenship,” said Rep. Duckworth. “This is especially true for those who serve in our military. Those who are willing to defend and die for our nation deserve the opportunity to legally live in the country they are defending.”

The House Rules committee will consider all proposed amendments tomorrow prior to consideration of the NDAA on the House floor. Rep. Denham offered the very same ENLIST Act as an amendment to the NDAA last year and it was ruled in order.

Rep. Denham introduced his ENLIST Act last June and has since then the bill has gathered 26 Democratic and 24 Republican co-sponsors.

Below is a list of common misconceptions about the ENLIST Act.

MISCONCEPTION: The ENLIST Act would incentivize more illegal immigrants to come to the United States.
TRUTH:  The ENLIST Act only applies to those who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own prior to the year 2011. Anyone coming to the United States after that date would not be eligible, so this cannot be an incentive for those individuals.

MISCONCEPTION: Under this bill, immigrants would sign up to serve and then leave the military after receiving legal permanent residence.
TRUTH:  Qualified immigrants must serve out the term of their enlistment contracts in order to receive LPR status. They cannot earn the status if they do not serve full terms or are dishonorably discharged.

MISCONCEPTION: We can’t trust undocumented immigrants to have America’s best interests at heart.
TRUTH: Rep. Denham served with many immigrants during his 16 years in the Air Force and while serving in Operations Desert Storm and Restore Hope. The immigrants he met, and which many of his veteran colleagues have also met, were wholly dedicated to our country and to its best interests. Immigrants have fought in every major conflict since the beginning of our nation.

MISCONCEPTION: Undocumented immigrants broke the law to get here. Why should we reward them?
TRUTH:  We shouldn’t hold society’s most vulnerable persons responsible for the actions of their parents. These individuals were brought here as young children, through no fault of their own. They know no other country to call home. Allowing them to serve in the military is not a reward or job. Serving your country is a sacrifice that could result in the loss of life for the freedoms of protecting our great nation.

MISCONCEPTION: The ENLIST Act would allow undocumented immigrants to take priority over citizens to enlist in the military and deny Americans the right to serve their county.
TRUTH: The ENLIST Act only allows undocumented children to apply to serve. The bill does not guarantee they will be accepted. Instead, it keeps enlistment at the sole discretion of the respective military branches, meaning they must fit all other requirements. Under this bill, military forces would continue to accept the very best of their applicants – regardless of their heritage.