Could There Be another Military Amnesty Push This Week? Bet on it.

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee is expected to mark up the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes the level of defense spending and sets policies controlling how the money is spent. As in previous years, Democrats will likely try to attach H.R. 60, the ENLIST Act—authored by the amnesty lobby’s favorite House Republican, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)—or a similar military amnesty provision to this must-pass piece of legislation.

Currently, federal law prohibits illegal aliens from enlisting in the military. Only U.S. citizens, nationals, and legal permanent residents are eligible to enlist. There are narrow exceptions allowing the Secretary of Defense to approve individuals otherwise not qualified if “such enlistment is vital to national interest.” However, this exception is seldom used.

The ENLIST Act— opposed by both FAIR and the White House—amends current law to allow illegal aliens to enlist in the military in exchange for a green card and an expedited path to citizenship. In fact, the bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant an illegal alien a green card upon enlistment so long as the alien establishes that he/she: (1) came to the U.S. unlawfully present by and since December 31, 2012; and (2) was under the age of 15 on the arrival date. There are no guidelines for how an illegal alien can establish meeting these requirements, and DHS has no discretion to deny the green card.

Simply, the ENLIST Act is amnesty. It rewards those who break our immigration laws with legal status (here, green cards) and immediate eligibility for citizenship. DHS has no discretion under a military amnesty mandate; it is required to give illegal aliens a green card upon enlistment. And, after only one day of service, these aliens become eligible for citizenship.

Military amnesty also threatens national security. Illegal aliens lack reliable documents that will allow DOD to conduct thorough background checks, including criminal activity in the U.S. or the aliens’ home countries. The inability of the military to conduct a thorough background check increases the likelihood that would-be terrorists can enlist and use their newly-received green cards to facilitate their plans to harm U.S. citizens.

Additionally, military amnesty blatantly undermines the rule of law. This would create a fundamentally unfair situation in which one set of individuals is favored under the law. By giving automatic eligibility for citizenship to illegal aliens upon enlistment, illegal aliens are put on par with legal immigrants who respected our laws and waited patiently – often for years – to immigrate to the United States.

FAIR strongly opposes giving illegal aliens citizenship in exchange for military service. Such policy rewards illegal aliens, ignores the interests of Americans and legal immigrants, and does so without benefit to the military. Moreover, the inclusion of such provisions in the NDAA is particularly objectionable. Changes to our immigration laws must be debated openly and fairly for the benefit of the American people. The effort to hold such “must-pass” pieces of legislation like the NDAA hostage in order to force a legalization scheme on Americans is nothing more than a political game by unscrupulous politicians and the amnesty lobby. It does not serve the national interest.

About Author


Heather Ham-Warren joined FAIR’s Government Relations department in 2018. In her role, Heather advocates for FAIR’s interests before Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. She also reviews and analyzes federal legislation and regulations, as well as conducts research on a wide variety of legal and immigration-related topics. Heather brings with her several years of political and legislative experience having worked for legislatures at the both the state and federal levels. She began her career in D.C. working on Capitol Hill—most recently serving as Legislative Director for a Florida Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.


  1. avatar
    jerris kidd on

    if we do not stop this insanity we will wind up as the far lefts want a Banana Republic . Make the choice America get out and VOTE !!!

  2. avatar

    This is insanity! What sane nation would ever even consider letting foreigners who criminally broke into their nation serve in their military?? This is like allowing known enemies be part of your military. Using Mexico as an example, please understand that these people have no plans to become American. They are, and will always be, only Mexican citizens. THEIR country reminds them of this constantly, that they are Mexican citizens living in another country, but always maintaining allegiance ONLY to Mexico. Oh, and don’t forget to keep sending those remittances. These foreign illegals, and their complicit countries, are simply exploiting. Using and abusing the USA. What confounds me is that our leaders/Congress are not infuriated about such treatment of our country especially by these third rate cesspit that we have, and do, give so much money every year. The deliberate self-destruction of my country confounds me.

  3. avatar
    Robert Weiser on

    Stop trying to make illeagles a master class they are criminals plain and simple

  4. avatar

    So, once again a bunch of politicians many of whom never served a day in uniform, act to cheapen military service, with another social experiment.

  5. avatar
    David M. Berke on

    “Currently, federal law prohibits illegal aliens from enlisting in the military. Only U.S. citizens, nationals, and legal permanent residents are eligible to enlist.”

    What’s a “national”? And why is there such a thing as “legal permanent residents”? Only U.S. citizens should be allowed to enlist. The rest of it is government nonsense and should finally be eliminated.

    And illegal aliens? Why of course, obviously they should all be deported. The USA is one of the few countries in the world that even tolerates illegal aliens staying here indefinitely. Hello ICE?

  6. avatar

    This is beyond insane. Where did the idea come from that people who break the law to come here without permission are who we want as citizens. As if they are suddenly going to be obeying every other law. Not. In fact, they are exactly who we do not want. But then, the whole Democratic party has become the party of illegal aliens, law enforcement haters, and criminal lovers. In other words, the reason why a lot of us have distanced ourselves from that party. Trump should say he will veto unless this is removed.

  7. avatar

    This is simply Sickening! Talk about an army that is against this country YEP!