Representative Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) is claiming a lot of things about what his ENLIST Act (H.R. 2377) would do if it were to become law. He’s pushed the ENLIST Act as a stand-alone bill, and now is trying to get it attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Let’s take a closer look at three of his claims and compare them with the actual text of the bill he introduced.
DENHAM CLAIM #1: The ENLIST Act “would apply solely to kids….”
THE FACTS: The bill does not set a maximum age limit. According to Section 2(a) of H.R. 2377, the ENLIST Act would apply to any alien who was unlawfully present in the United States on December 31, 2011, who has been continuously present in the United States since that date, and who was younger than 15 years of age at the time he/she initially entered the United States.
The only age mentioned is the age at initial entry to the United States. The ENLIST Act would apply to illegal aliens at whatever age each branch of the armed services are willing to permit; age 35 is the current maximum here. Currently, a 35-year-old can enlist in the Army or Marines (with an age waiver over the age of 28), a 34-year-old can enlist in the Navy, and 27-year-olds can enlist in the Air Force and Coast Guard.
Is it really fair to consider 35 year-olds “kids”? Article II of the U.S. Constitution says a 35-year-old can become President of the United States. That’s a pretty big job the Founders thought was worthy to put on the shoulders of someone Denham apparently deems to be a kid.
DENHAM CLAIM #2: The ENLIST Act would apply to illegal aliens “who were brought here through no fault of their own…”
THE FACTS: The bill does not specify the conditions under which illegal aliens entered the United States. Contrary to Denham’s claim, there’s no mention of reason for the illegal alien’s entry into the United States. Thus, the ENLIST Act applies to those who illegally crossed the border alone. These unaccompanied minors are illegally crossing the border at increasing rates, as one federal agency reported that the number of unaccompanied illegal alien minors referred to them in just a four month period in 2012 was double the number of unaccompanied minors that were referred over the all previous eight years together. The passage of the ENLIST Act would not only reward unaccompanied minors already in the United States, but would also encourage illegal immigration by more unaccompanied minors.
DENHAM CLAIM #3: The ENLIST Act would allow illegal aliens to “earn legal permanent resident status through their service.”
THE FACTS: The bill gives illegal aliens green cards upon enlisting and makes them immediately eligible for U.S. citizenship. Section 2(b) of the ENLIST Act provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security “shall” adjust the status of a qualifying illegal alien under the legislation who enlists in a regular component of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (a green card).
Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security actually grants amnesty upon enlistment, before the illegal alien has even served or finished basic training! Denham’s assertion that illegal aliens will “earn legal permanent status through their service” is misleading. Is it fair for an illegal alien to receive legal permanent resident status on the first day of basic training? Representative Denham’s proposal would allow exactly that. Moreover, because Denham’s bill does nothing to alter the current process for expedited naturalization for aliens who join the military during times of active military hostility, the illegal aliens don’t just receive a green card before finishing any service, they are immediately eligible for citizenship.
Representative Denham is peddling his vague language on the Hill in order to grant amnesty to many more illegal aliens than his statements would lead you to believe. The ENLIST Act would put illegal aliens on the fast track to citizenship and convert the armed services into a green card processing agency. For these reasons, other Members of Congress should not sign up for the ENLIST Act.