Return of the ENLIST Act: A Trojan Horse for Amnesty

By Dan Cadman, May 18, 2017

On January 3, 2017, various members of the House of Representatives cosponsored HR 60, the "Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act".

The reference to "new legalized immigrants" in the title is a red herring. In fact, the bill would allow illegal aliens to enlist in the military, at which point they would be entitled to amnesty through legalization of status, as is evident by the plain language in Section 2 of the bill.

There are a couple of intertwined rumors going around our capital city relating to this bill: First, that the Trump White House may be considering it favorably; and second, that its authors may attempt to insert it into the sprawling Pentagon appropriations bill, the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), even though it is nominally against congressional rules to use appropriations bills to pass substantive legislative proposals — something that regularly gets overlooked as a matter of convenience when legislators so choose.

This bill really isn't too different from similar attempts made in the House in 2015. That was when Arizona's Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would express the "sense of the House" that the defense secretary should consider authorizing recipients of the administration's "executive action" immigration program to enlist in the military. Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas took a different tack to achieve the same goal by embedding text directing the secretary of defense to study permitting such enlistments in the language of the report that preceded the NDAA.

Following those actions, I wrote a blog expressing my concern over the proposed measures, noting the fallacious logic behind them — including, most particularly, the fact that such a bill is not in the best interest of military enlistments, not to mention its attempt to break the amnesty logjam in a way purporting to be in the national interest. In the blog, I quoted CIS Board Member and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Harry E. Soyster as saying:

The standards to enter today's military are rigorous and should not be subject to compromise. With the many threats posed around the world that our armed forces are obliged to meet to keep Americans safe, enlistment programs are not the place to try to enact social policies or achieve political goals. It also is not fair to our serving soldiers and veterans who have met the standards and exceeded our expectations in repeated deployments in defense of their country.

Absolutely nothing has changed since 2015. What was a bad idea then is still a bad idea now. Gen. Soyster thinks so, too; I checked.

The military is still easily able to meet its enlistment quotas (and in fact turns away many Americans and lawful residents as being not sufficiently qualified). There is no need whatsoever to open the door to illegal aliens who cannot readily be properly vetted. The ENLIST Act is a Trojan horse.