By Joe Guzzardi
August 16, 2017
Bad immigration legislation is like a broken record. A pro-amnesty congressional member introduces a bill, then it’s voted down. The next year, essentially the same bill is reintroduced, but defeated again. The year after that, the legislation is re-re-introduced, and once again, goes down.
The most glaring example is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which lurked in Congress for more than two decades, and was rejected 100 percent of the time. Not until 2012 when President Obama unilaterally bypassed Congress did DACA take effect.
Another bad bill, less well-known than DACA, has been hanging about the halls of Congress for several years, the deceptively titled Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training Act, the ENLIST Act. The dishonesty is found in the fine print. Once an illegal alien enrolls in the military, the Department of Homeland Security adjusts his immigration status from illegally present to lawful permanent resident, and eventual citizenship. The bad amnesty-first ENLIST, which Congress defeated in 2014 and 2015, is U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-CA) brainchild.
Denham and the other 202 ENLIST cosigners, which includes 97 Republicans, falsely claim that the bill would improve military readiness by widening the potential military enlistee base for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Widen the base, possibly, but improve military readiness, definitely not. Recruiters report that qualified applicants are so plentiful that in recent years the military can only accept 20 percent of the total. One Navy officer observed that the quality of the recruits is the highest in 40 years.
Active military personnel and veterans are in near-unanimity that ENLIST is bad policy. Among their objections: officers don’t want enlistees who may enroll simply to escape possible removal, dilute the military’s high standards by admitting illegally present foreign nationals whose allegiance may be to another country, or jeopardize morale by admitting individuals who may have ulterior motives other than protecting the United States.
When Congress debated the 2014 ENLIST Act, nine generals, seven admirals and the American Legion denounced it. They offered the sound advice that defense bills shouldn’t be weighed down by “contentious and complex” immigration policies.
Since Denham is a retired Air Force officer, many consider him to have special perspective into the military’s needs. But Denham’s active service period ended in 1988, and his political career is in full bloom. Since 2002, Denham has been in the California State Senate, and then he went on to the U.S. House of Representatives. But although a Republican, Denham’s time on Capitol Hill includes staunch amnesty advocacy. In 2013, Denham co-sponsored the House Democrats amnesty bill, similar to the Senate’s failed Gang of Eight legislation. Then in 2014, Denham broke with his GOP colleagues, and voted against a bill that would have ended DACA.
Denham’s 10th Congressional district includes Modesto which Forbes magazine listed as the fifth most miserable American city to live in, a crime and poverty-plagued urban nightmare. A responsible U.S. representative would concentrate on improving his constituents’ lives and not focus on an agenda-driven bill to cravenly bestow illegal immigrants’ citizenship through the deceptive ENLIST stealth amnesty bill.