All 20 Republican lawmakers who voted against an amendment that prevents illegals from enlisting in the U.S. military refused to answer questions from Breitbart News regarding the expedited citizenship most illegals would have been eligible for once they joined the armed forces.
They also each refused to answer whether they agree with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling their Republican colleagues who voted for the amendment “xenophobic” and “un-American.”
That means that for now, the 20 Republicans who defected and joined Democrats in opposing the amendment are allowing Pelosi’s comments to remain unchallenged.
Last week, the GOP-led House of Representatives approved Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) amendment, which removed language from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016 that would have allowed illegal aliens who have received President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to serve in the military.
The amnesty language to the NDAA was inserted by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) during the House Armed Services Committee’s NDAA markup.
The Brooks amendment passed even though 20 Republicans defected and voted against it, joining Pelosi’s Democrats.
According to immigration experts and congressional aides familiar with the subject, the Gallego language would have allowed the DACA recipients to qualify for expedited naturalization granted to non-citizens who serve in the military.
Breitbart News reached out to all 20 Republicans who voted to keep the Gallego language in the NDAA and asked them to explain why they voted to provide DACA recipients with a pathway to citizenship that they would not have qualified for without the NDAA amnesty language.
They were also each asked whether they agree with Pelosi’s controversial rhetoric. None of the Republican lawmakers responded to Breitbart News’s request for comment.
Jessica Vaughan, director for policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CSIS), told Breitbart News that once in the military, DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” would qualify for expedited citizenship.
Congressional aides, who spoke to Breitbart News on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to publicly discuss the matter, echoed Vaughan, saying the Gallego measure was a ploy to allow DACA recipients to become naturalized citizens, something they would not be eligible for without the Gallego language.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an immigrant has to be a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), a green card holder, for at least five years before he or she can apply for citizenship status.
However, once in the military, the citizenship application and naturalization process is expedited for non citizens who serve with one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, explains USCIS on its official website.
When it comes to applying for citizenship while serving in the U.S. military, the system assumes the applicant is in the U.S. legally. The system is not designed to deal with immigrants, such as DACA recipients, who are not qualified to become naturalized citizens.
The core requirements and qualifications that a U.S. service member must meet to become an American citizen does not include being a legal immigrant.
Only when serving in peacetime are non citizens required to have “obtained lawful permanent resident status” to qualify for naturalization.
However, service during periods of hostilities, including now, allows the service member to apply for citizenship without a green card.
A period of war allows “all non citizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001, to immediately file for citizenship,” says USCIS.
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who co-sponsored the amendment to strip the amnesty language from the NDAA, and Brooks himself were worried that if it had been allowed to remain in the bill, the Gallego provision would have granted expedited citizenship benefits to DACA recipients, according to congressional aides.
“There is a core group of Republicans in the House who mistakenly believe they have to cast their lot with ethnic and corporate proponents of amnesty and immigration expansion in order to get re-elected,” said CSIS’ Vaughan, referring to the 20 Republicans who voted to keep the Gallego language in the NDAA. “It seems like they will vote for any type of amnesty, even if it means replacing American soldiers with illegal aliens, to curry favor with certain voter groups. But it’s a fool’s errand.”
“They end up alienating their fellow Republicans and on top of it the advocacy groups they are trying to pander to will never support them if there is a Democrat available — and there is always a Democrat available who will out-pander on immigration issues,” she added. “Instead, to broaden their base of support Republicans need to recruit a diverse group of candidates that voters can identify with and who will champion the interests of working Americans and their families.”
Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83