Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in a seemingly abrupt about-face, has blocked consideration of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have paved a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who serve in the military.
Washington insiders claimed that Cantor had quietly supported the so called “ENLIST Act,” but backed away from it due to pressure from conservatives in the party and because he fears that a pro stand on the amendment could cost him the election in the upcoming Virginia primary race.
Cantor was recently heckled by tea party activists at a GOP event in the congressman’s own district and his opponent in the primary race has been attacking him over immigration.
Cantor’s office confirmed that the ENLIST Act amendment would not be among those being debated with the NDAA. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) vowed that he would bring it up as part of the floor battle over the defense bill.
Cantor’s stand on the ENIST Act is baffling considering that he has indicated that undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children should be allowed to become citizens.
“Certainly we ought to have the compassion to say these kids shouldn’t be kids without a country, and we ought to allow them the life that they deserve,” Cantor said last June.
Some say that Cantor is bowing to pressure within his own caucus from members who are leery that House approval of the ENLIST Act would allow the Senate conference committee to dramatically expand the amendment before sending it back to the House.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly considering expanding a specialized program to allow undocumented immigrants to enlist in the military. Federal law gives the Secretary of Defense wide leeway in accepting military members deemed “vital to the national interest.” Undocumented immigrants are normally barred from the military.
This battle appears to be far from over and the immigration attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo in New Jersey will be following its developments with great interest. Immigration law is constantly evolving; therefore, it is important that you choose an immigration law firm dedicated to meeting your immigration needs in a changing legal landscape. Call us at (844) 288-7978 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.