House conservatives block modest GOP immigration proposal
April 4th, 2014
04:09 PM ET
4 years 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That status would be rescinded if the person left military service unless it was an honorable discharge.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. Lynda/Minnesota

    "And this proposal was from a fellow Republican."

    Now why would this fellow Republican even THINK conservatives would be willing to work on immigration reform during an election year.

    April 4, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. rs

    There they go again! Another opportunity to fix immigration (or anything!) and the GOP shuts it down. These fools are simply a colossal lost cause.
    2014 elections will be fun as the GOP has nothing to run on, literally.

    April 4, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein

    Well, if the conservatives don't even like a "modest" proposal, I really don't think that immigration reforms will can a serious review and update. That is a real shame as there needs to be review on this kind of thing every 10 to 20 years or so.

    April 4, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Silence DoGood

    GOP: "Instead of one big immigration bill, why not just do a series of smaller ones?"
    OK – here is a smaller one.
    GOP: "no no no no no no no no..."

    April 4, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |

    Americans need milltary jobs! Americans needs Jobs period ! If someone is here illegal they are just that . They should follow the laws like the rest of us are expected to do an no less .

    April 4, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. just saying

    do not try and pass amnesty immigration bills as part of other bills. the american people want our current laws enforced by this lawless criminal administration. is that too much to ask for? to deport every illegal you find in this country instead of letting 75% of them walk out the door and back onto the streets? is it too much to ask that our law enforcement people be allowed to do their jobs with interference from politicians?

    April 4, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Gop USa

    Too bad, we dont want or need anymore Mexicans or latinos here, We have too many illegal Mexicans bankrupting our schools and communitys already and I would vote for any gop that puts fast swift deportations back on the table for all Illegal Mexicans of all ages, no exceptions, almost every conservative I talk too is passionate about this and should be done

    April 4, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Dead Bear

    Change the Capitol Dome to a big top and the venue would be more fitting for it's current majority occupants... A bunch of clowns and feces-throwing chimps.

    April 4, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Tommy G

    The Obama administration is in the process of gutting and cutting our military. We don't need these people to sign up.

    On the note of total hypocrisy, the lefties in here love to scream "ACA it is the law". Well, how about the same enthusiasm for our current immigration laws? Here, repeat after me "OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE THE LAWS OF THE LAND. ENFORCE THEM."

    If you want it for your precious Obamacare then why don't you want it for all laws?

    April 4, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Al-NY,NY

    so, if someone who has entered the country illegally BUT wants to join the military and possibly get killed is NOT ok? If that's the case, the GOP and their xenophobic majority is so out of touch, they'll get even less of the minority vote than they did in the last election

    April 4, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. smith

    We really need to stop this madness. We can`t support everybody and this is one of the main reasons our economy is in shambles. We need to seal the border in the south as well as the north, no one in or out. You want to visit another country then you can fly or go by ship.

    April 4, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |

    What's new? November comes quickly for them.

    April 4, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. Winning

    How hard it is in an election year? REALLY? Dude, where have you been for the last 5 years CNN? This is how the GOP acts ALL THE TIME. Wow, just wow.

    April 4, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. O'drama ya Mama

    Republican response: He must be a RINO...

    April 4, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. The REAL Truth...

    Once again, the Grand Oligarchy Party in the House blocks anything that Obama is "FOR" even legislation from their own party.. . can you say juvenile ?

    April 4, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. The REAL Truth...

    @Tommy G – If you want it for your precious Obamacare then why don't you want it for all laws?
    They do Tommy.. are you aware of the increased tax revenue that would generate?

    April 4, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. rla

    Good for the conservatives- this farce for political purpose that was built by the lie of the progressive extremeists ! This group of illegals is hurting our econoimy, citizens are having their quality of life degraded and their future destroyed- especially the poor and middle class that the democrats don't give a D- about except for their votes

    April 4, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @Tommy G
    The Obama administration is in the process of gutting and cutting our military. We don't need these people to sign up.

    On the note of total hypocrisy, the lefties in here love to scream "ACA it is the law". Well, how about the same enthusiasm for our current immigration laws? Here, repeat after me "OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS ARE THE LAWS OF THE LAND. ENFORCE THEM."
    Obama is enforcing them. Lots of folks have been deported. This was actually a Romney campaign criticizing point.
    If an immigration bill is passed that will become the new law.
    So now that you see the laws are enforced, how about you giving a shout-out the cool ACA law?

    April 4, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |

    The GOP clowns have had NOTHING to offer sence 2009 and have accomplished NOTHING but a 24 BILLION dallar LOSS in THEIR gov SHUTDOWN and their depriving THEIR OWN VOTERS in the red states of healthcare while the REST of us can have it at BARGIN PRICES. My son has gotten a blue cross SILVER plan in FLORIDA FOR 62.00 a MONTH. GOP governors down south, watch out. Why would anybody you denied healthcare at BARGIN prices VOTE FOR YOU????????

    April 4, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Vence

    Immigration reform will come back with a vengeance. GOP will regret it soon.

    April 4, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Ted

    Nothing got passed? Sounds good to me. No amnesty!

    April 4, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    This just confirms that the shrub #3 will never make it to the WH because the "new republicans" have no idea what is going on except for their 1% friends. They spend more time playing golf than out with the real people.
    This country is made up of immigrants from all over the world and the way people feel about those coming to our shores now was the same way they felt about the Irish, German and Italians. How that tide has turned, right?
    We will all remember jeb's signature thart gave Floridians the right to kill unarmed teenagers at will. Excuse me, Black teenagers.

    April 4, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. don in albuquerque

    Immigration is kinda like ObamaCare to the GOTP. "We are gonna replace it with something better." Replace it with what?
    "Something better." What? "We are going to replace it with another promise to replace it."

    April 4, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. more bs

    to everyone shouting, deport them, how about punishing whoever hires them. and i don't mean a slap on the wrist, i mean major fines. if they start punishing the ones doing the hiring then maybe there will be no jobs for the illegals to come over here to get. just a thought.

    April 4, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    Dear GOP/Teatrolls:

    Would you like a bigger shovel?? Maybe even a back-hoe?

    Keep digging!



    April 4, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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