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House Leadership to Military DREAMers: “Even If You're Willing to Put Your Life on the Line for the Country You Love, We Don't Want You Here"

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Eric Cantor Gave Steve King an Immigration Vote, but Halts Vote on Non-Controversial Bill from Jeff Denham

Today, House Leadership reminded us that even when it comes to the least controversial aspects of immigration reform, they remain beholden to the Steve King Caucus.

Per Seung Min Kim of Politico, “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will block attempts next week to include a measure on a must-pass defense policy bill that would legalize young undocumented immigrants who serve in the military.  A spokesman confirmed Friday that the legislation, known as the Enlist Act, will not be among those debated with the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill that sets policy for the Pentagon. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the Enlist Act’s chief sponsor, had pledged to bring it up as part of the floor battle over the defense bill.”

The ENLIST Act, which would allow DREAMers to serve in the military and become eligible for eventual citizenship, may be a small bore measure, but it is arguably the least controversial aspect of how Congress should deal with the fact of 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.  Rep. Denham has been struggling to bring it up for a vote thanks to the efforts of Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL) who’s been circulating a petition opposing it and Steve King (R-IA) who told young immigrants that want to enlist in the military that “we have a bus for you to Tijuana,”

According to Patty Kupfer, Managing Director of America’s Voice:

To the immigrant community, Eric Cantor’s message is crystal clear: ‘even if you are willing to put your life on the line for the country you love, we don’t want you here.’  With the legislative window quickly closing and House Republicans’ incapable of passing even the smallest of immigration measures, it’s clear that Steve King—who got a vote in the House to deport DREAMers last year–is dominating the House agenda and that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Eric Cantor are content to let him.  So much for ‘leadership.’

On Monday, longtime immigration champion Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is slated to hold a field hearing in his home state on the important contributions of DREAMers in the military.  He’ll be joined by fellow House immigration champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jessica Wright, Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness at the Pentagon, who’ll both serve as witnesses.

Added Kupfer:

The longer the House delays a vote on real immigration reform, the louder the calls become for the White House to step in where Republicans have failed. If House Republicans care even a shred about the fate of their Party come 2016, then they have 42 days left to act.  The clock is ticking.

322 Days Since Senate Passed its Immigration Bill; 42 Days Left Until Window of Opportunity Closes