House conservatives block modest GOP immigration proposal
April 4th, 2014
04:09 PM ET
9 months ago

House conservatives block modest GOP immigration proposal

(CNN) - House conservatives on Friday blocked a narrow immigration reform measure, showing how hard it is an election year for the GOP-led chamber to make even small changes to the nation's immigration laws.

And this proposal was from a fellow Republican.

Rep. Jeff Denham of California pushed to add his proposal that would allow young people brought into the country illegally to join the military and gain legal status to annual defense legislation.

But conservatives revolted, arguing the measure amounted to "amnesty." They warned leaders its inclusion would jeopardize passage of the defense measure.

Although he is a co-sponsor of Denham's bill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, a California Republican, said in a written statement that he would not include the proposal as part of the defense legislation he will unveil next month.

Pressed if he decided conservative opposition on the immigration issue would have defeated the defense bill, McKeon waved off the questions.

"I'm not going to talk any more about this right now," he said.

Denham, who served in the U.S. Air Force with immigrants in the first Iraq war, lashed out at those in his own party who were aggressively working against his bill.

"I'm very frustrated to hear controversy from members who have never served their country and don't understand the impact that immigrants have had on our freedoms," Denham said.

This is the second time the California Republican has tried to tack his bill, called the "Enlist Act," onto the must-pass defense measure only to be blocked by fellow GOP members.

The legislation would allow those who were brought illegally to the United States when they were 15 or younger to enlist in the military and gain legal status.

That status would be rescinded if the person left military service unless it was an honorable discharge.

Alabama Republican Mo Brooks argued the bill would hurt U.S. citizens.

"I don't think it's in Americans best interests from an economic standpoint to dramatically increase the job opportunities for illegal aliens who are competing against American citizens for those jobs," Brooks said.

Asked about Denham's criticism of those working against the bill, Brooks replied "that's bunk."

Denham is one of only three House Republicans who co-sponsored the comprehensive immigration reform bills introduced by House Democrats. His central California district includes major agricultural businesses and 40% of its population is Hispanic.

The Democratic campaign committee has put his district on its top tier target list and highlights the lack of any GOP action on immigration as the main reason why he should be replaced.

House Speaker John Boehner unveiled a set of immigration reform principles earlier this year that would have allowed legal status for those undocumented workers in the United States now.

But a majority of House GOP members said they did not want a debate on the controversial issue before the midterms and Boehner has since pulled back.

Boehner argued it was unlikely any immigration measure would pass because GOP members didn't trust President Barack Obama.

Denham vowed he would continue to push for the bill as an amendment to the defense bill or as a standalone measure.


Filed under: House Republicans • Immigration
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. brownbuttonglutton

    Republicans are the only party looking out for Americans. Democrats invite illegal alien leaches to take our jobs and mooch off tax paying Americans via welfare. Democrats will sell out our country in a heart beat for votes.

    April 5, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  2. Elizabeth

    Everyone points their fingers at the Hispanics.....what about the Chinesse and VietNamiese.?????
    I've lost jobs to both!

    April 5, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. The right wing have lost their damned minds

    What about the Puerto Ricans that are here legally like me???? Are you gonna hate on me too..I have rights and I'm legal!!!!!

    April 5, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  4. V.S.

    So far the only ideas I hear of immigration reform is used as another term for amnesty. A lot of people dont know or care about the criminal elements that slip in over the border. Also I couldnt get certain kinds of work because the employer stopped short of saying I wasnt a illegal alien. I wasnt looking to get rich, just to supplement my retirement. Now due to health issues, I am disabled. I resent the language barrier when I try to make a purchase at some places, and I also resent being told I need to learn spanish, just because I look mexican. I also resent our tax dollars going to pay for their medical bills and their getting other help. Especially when many Americans are in financial trouble and needs help but cant get it.I further resent Americans being treated as second class citizens while illegals are so much more welcome.

    April 6, 2014 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Grand American Patriot
    I question seriously your nomenclature as you deride the way our nation was founded the black's and whites of this nation were all immigrants from somewhere to become slaves or founding fathers and doing great injustices to indigenous Americans.
    That said I hear the number 11m not 16m you espouse, and if you just double the 5+ mill of your starting point or take 3.2% of the current population you get pretty close to My 11m slightly less granted.
    Then get to the cause of the increase its mainly southern states employing cheap labor ( for jobs Americans wont do) but those employers break the law and encourage the flow.... and are not penalized to level that makes it uneconomic for them and the immigrant.... now you get to another reason why Republicans oppose the minimum wage.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    April 6, 2014 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  6. bfgair

    This country is made up of immagrants from every where on the globe. To become an American you have to go thru the proper channels and do the work that is required to become an American. It is long past time for this country to kick out ALL of the lawbreaking Illegals and require them ALL to do the work to become a REAL AMERICAN and not just another FELON sucking of the American free wagon and costing all of those that have done things right.

    April 6, 2014 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  7. pyusmc66

    What else would the "TeaPotty" do but oppose and block something? It's all they are capable of. Reading "Dr. Seuse" aloud. Everybody else does that in the 2nd grade.

    April 6, 2014 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  8. Chuck

    Close the border, put the 12 Million illegals on cattle cars and ship them UPS to Mexico

    April 6, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. goodday

    Casey Rodriguez what kind of person are you . you keep complaining  that you can not get a job just go out there and i assure you you'll find one. take a tour go to the farms and watch how people work or are you one of those people who think that because you're American you must get payed 15hr without knowing anything on the job. how do you think they are going to be detained by the color of their skin or the way they look

    April 6, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Armando

    Our government should not be making concessions to snide foreign nationals who hold our immigration laws and those who follow them in contempt.

    April 6, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Stop wasting time

    Good luck getting those much needed Latino votes. If you won't even grant citizenship to those who would defend their country what hope do you have in winning elections in the long run.

    April 6, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. t

    .....well,.....Jebby Bush wont be happy............

    April 6, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. galactus

    All illegal aliens should be deported. We should not be allowing illegal aliens to enter military service but deporting them out of the United States.

    April 6, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. waylon bc

    are we trying to send just the brown colored immigrants back or the white ones too. Even the great grandkids of illegal immigrants should go home too. heck i say all immigrants that came here after the 18th century should go home. bye everyone if you have blood that has a different country in it such as french, norweigan, italian, german, european, your ancestors were immigrants, which makes you all generational immigrants.

    April 6, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. bob

    Great to see republicans haven't learned a thing from the last presidential election.

    April 6, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
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