Some House Republicans trying to slip amnesty into NDAA bill

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During my term in the U.S. Congress I served on the House Armed Services Committee. One of the major pieces of legislation produced out of that committee is the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

There have been countless baseless allegations that in my support of the 2011 NDAA, I consented with indefinite detention of American citizens by our military. The NDAA is the authorizing document for missions and requirements for the military, setting the conditions for appropriations. I served in our military for 22 years and if anyone on Capitol Hill is familiar with missions and requirements, I certainly was.

That experience resulted in my selection for the NDAA conference committee with the Senate members. I studied the bill carefully and saw that specific language addressed the issue, as some of us recommended. However, others sought to assume what they wanted to believe existed.

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Anyone familiar with the U.S. military knows of posse comitatus and the fundamental law which precludes our military from having any enforcement relationship with American citizens — and as the 2011 NDAA stated, legal immigrants.

So, it is with great concern that I read reports regarding an addition of language to the House 2014 NDAA that would grant amnesty, something totally unrelated to the mission and requirements of the US military. It seems politicians are trying to enact a backdoor action and shamefully, they seek to hold hostage the authorization of our military’s operations and support to its vital programs.

As reported by, South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan is dropping his co-sponsorship of an immigration bill House Republicans have been quietly working to include in the upcoming Department of Defense authorization bill, saying the language should never have been considered to be added to the unrelated measure.

Late Wednesday, Duncan said he hadn’t been aware of efforts by the bill’s author, California Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), to add the language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – and that if it were added, “NDAA would lose my vote as well.” At issue is a proposal to allow so-called DREAMers to obtain permanent legal residency by joining the military.

We should pay heed to the lesson of history when the Roman army stopped being manned by Roman citizens and was hired out to outliers. We should NEVER seek to use American citizenship as an incentive to individuals who have disrespected our borders and are here illegally.

I am tired of this emotional use of poll-tested messaging, with the term “DREAMers.” We have legacies of American families filled with young men and women who dream of serving our great nation. We don’t need some carrot dangling out there that in the long run could have an adverse effect upon the readiness of our force.

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” to the NDAA, which could come to the House floor as early as next month.

In addition to House leadership, two key GOP chairmen are key to whether Denham succeeds. California Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is helming the effort to draft the NDAA bill. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the immigration issue, could pull rank and topple the effort as well. Goodlatte said Wednesday “we’re working on it.”

A House Armed Services committee aide said McKeon hadn’t committed to including the language in the NDAA bill. Key proponents of a comprehensive immigration bill said they support Denham’s effort but that it’s not part of a broader push for amnesty — sure, this is what I call “incrementalism.”

Rep. Mo Brooks said Wednesday, “There is always the risk that those in Washington that wish to betray the American people on behalf of illegal aliens will slip some language into some place that opens the floodgates to the detriment of American workers.” However, this isn’t just about American workers, it’s about American national security.

Rep. Duncan posted this statement to his FB page, “I was willing to have a conversation about the possibility of allowing some of the children who came here with their parents illegally to earn citizenship through military service. But that conversation should have been debated as part of a stand-alone bill that could not be conferenced with a broader bill, and then even only after we had made progress on enforcing our current immigration laws. I will not allow Washington to pull their sneaky tricks on the public, so I am withdrawing the conditional support I had for the stand-alone military service legislation and have warned leadership that if they attempt to add this language as an amendment to the NDAA that I will vote against the entire bill for that reason alone.”

If I were still there in the House and serving on the Armed Services Committee, I would oppose the Denham language as well. If this proposal has merit, let it stand on its own and be openly debated. The authorization of our military’s missions and requirements is not the place to play hide and seek. And I advise my former colleagues not to support this amendment. I will be watching, as are many others now for sure.

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