On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said he was for the “principle” of granting citizenship to DREAMers who serve in the military, but the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was not the place to do it.
Cantor also claimed that his views on the matter were not “political” – even though he had an about face on the issue after his top lieutenant was ousted as a district GOP chair on his own home turf two weeks ago – and left open the possibility that the House could have a vote later in the year on the ENLIST Act, which would award citizenship to illegal immigrant DREAMers in the military.
“I have been very definitive on this: I am for the principle, but I am not for using NDAA to do this,” Cantor told the Washington Post. “This is not a political matter, this is a serious issue involving military service.”
Cantor said that “service in our military is one of the highest honors that anyone could actually fulfill” and noted, “if you’re a kid who was brought here by your parents, in many cases unbeknownst to that person, and you want to serve in our military and you know no other country as home, you ought to be able to do that and be able to become a citizen if you have served in our country’s armed forces.”
Earlier in the week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) left open the possibility that the House could vote on the ENLIST Act, which Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) tried to unsuccessfully attach to the NDAA, as a standalone measure later this year. Boehner said there have been “discussions about” it, “but no decisions” had yet been made. Cantor also did not rule out such a scenario on Wednesday.
“Well, no decision has been made; the members involved are still working out the language, but no decisions have been made,” Cantor said.
Though Cantor claims this is not a political matter, Breitbart News’s Matthew Boyle reported that Cantor made “a complete turnaround” last week after he had been “the leading and most powerful force behind the effort to insert a version of Rep. Jeff Denham’s ENLIST Act into the NDAA bill.” Cantor changed his mind after his lieutenant was ousted in his district and his primary opponent Dave Brat, whom Ann Coulter endorsed for being against amnesty, ramped up his attacks on Cantor’s immigration stance.
As Breitbart News reported, sixteen former U.S. military leaders wrote Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, saying it would be a “serious mistake to open up military service to those known to have violated the laws of the United States” because “they have acted in a manner inconsistent with the oath to support and defend the Constitution that they will be required to swear upon enlisting.”
“Until now, such conduct has been deemed disqualifying, and we believe it should continue to be so,” they wrote.
Earlier this week, a top Pentagon official said the Obama administration may bypass Congress and allow DREAMers to enlist in the military this summer through the “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI)” program by deeming DREAMers to be “vital to the national interest.”