On 5/20/2014 the House Rules committee considered which amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  would be ruled in order. U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) sponsored a bill entitled the ENLIST Act,  as an amendment to the NDAA. The Enlist Act proposed to allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 15 – the opportunity to serve in the U.S. armed forces. After being honorably discharged, these men and women would earn permanent legal residence and also be eligible for citizenship. Despite having bipartisan support, 26 Democrats and 24 Republicans supporting the bill, the ENLIST Act was not included as an amendment that was in order for NDAA and therefore it did not receive an up/down vote on the floor of the House.

Rep. Denham signaled that he would want the administration to act on this issue if Congress failed to do so.  Rep. Denham may have garnered the attention and support of the administration on this issue. According to the Huffington Post, Pentagon officials have approved a policy that would allow a limited group of undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children to enlist in the military, opening up a path for them to eventually become citizens. The policy has not been formally announced by the Obama administration. It would affect some of the roughly 550,000 undocumented young people granted the ability to remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The new policy, under a Pentagon recruitment plan called Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, would allow some undocumented immigrants with critical language or medical skills to enlist in the armed forces, opening up a path for them to eventually become citizens.

Immigrants in military service has deep historical roots in the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service asserts that “noncitizens have fought in the U.S. Armed forces since the Revolutionary War. Foreign born residents comprised half of all U.S. military recruits during the 1840s and 20 percent of the 1.5 million service members in the Union Army during the Civil War.”   According to One America, “the military benefits greatly from the service of its foreign-born. Non citizen recruits offer greater racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity than citizen recruits. This diversity is particularly valuable given the military’s increasingly global agenda.”

Subhan Law Office, LLC, supports all our men and women in military service. We are grateful for your dedication, self-sacrifice, and your service in defending the Constitutional principles of the United States of America. Thank you.