Heritage Action: Don't Tack Immigration Onto Defense Bill

Denham supports the ENLIST Act. (Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

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.  

The advocacy arm of the right-leaning Heritage Foundation announced it would key vote against the National Defense Authorization Act if the ENLIST Act is added as an amendment.  

Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Needham called the proposal "amnesty." "Advancing an amnesty-first agenda on the backs of our brave men and women in the military is deplorable," he said in a statement. "The ENLIST Act creates radical and perverse incentives that will have a negative impact on our military and our immigration system."  

James Jay Carafano, the Heritage Foundation’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, added:  

"To jam this act into the NDAA goes beyond the pale in playing politics with national security. This literally destroys the credibility of the NDAA as must-pass legislation that the nation needs to provide for the common defense. The ENLIST Act is unnecessary for national security; makes a mockery of U.S. immigration law; and is a slap in the face to those who want to come here and play by the rules."  

The comments come as Washington is awash in rumors and speculation that Republicans are working through back channels in the House and Senate to push through some action — any action — on immigration ahead of this year's midterms.  

Earlier on Wednesday, a coalition of political and business leaders announced a new effort to rally support in the House for an immigration overhaul .  

The ENLIST Act has been pushed by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif.  

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