It had failed to take off once before but now Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, is working to breathe new life into the ENLIST Act, which, if passed, would grant some undocumented immigrants legal status if they serve in the military.
For some living in the U.S. illegally who join the military a path to citizenship may be realized if the reintroduced legislation is passed.
“This bill says that no matter who you are if you believe in the American ideal, if you serve your country, put your life on the line, we will take care of you in return,” Harder said.
Former Republican Congressman Jeff Denham first introduced the bill in 2017 but it never reached the floor. Rep. Harder believes now is the time.
“This bill has bi-partisan support. We have both Republicans and Democrats that agree this is a good idea,” Harder said.
The bill would allow “Dreamers," immigrants who were first brought here as children by their parents illegally, a chance at a green card. If the ENLIST Act were to pass, it would allow “Dreamers” who serve in the military automatic, lawful, permanent resident status just as long as they are not dishonorably discharged.
Groups that work with immigrant families, such as Mi Familia Vota, say it’s a good start.
“It shouldn’t just be limited to those who have been in the military,” said Mi Familia Vota Stanislaus Regional Coordinator Yasmin Martinez.
However, Martinez said a more permanent solution is needed. Her organization is pushing for the passage of the Dream and Promise Act, which she said would grant more people citizenship.
“Every person enlisted in the military should have the security of knowing that the country that they are serving will accept them as legal, permanent residents,” she said.
According to Harder, immigrant military service members are denied citizenship at a higher rate than civilians. The freshman congressman said the nation needs to change its message.
“Then you can earn your path to citizenship, you can earn your way to the American dream through military service,” he said.
Chairman of the Republican Party of Stanislaus County Joseph Day sent FOX40 the following statement Thursday:
Speaker Pelosi’s protege, Mr Harder, without a bill of his own, is now pushing Congressman Denham’s bill. We need strong representation in the 10th Congressional District, and we will be working to put a Republican in that seat in 2020.
When Republicans consider we have already invested in ‘Dreamers’, they are often receptive to an earned pathway to citizenship. However, an ongoing concern is daisy-chain immigration, which amounts to amnesty.
We know the true Democratic Party goal is to tip elections permanently in their favor, but Republicans are making inroads into Hispanic communities who share our values. Democrats simply cannot deliver on their promises and always resort to blaming others and making excuses for their disastrous programs that only seek to keep people dependent on Democrats.
Republicans come from all communities and that is reflected in our leadership. We are not hyphenated Americans. We are all just Americans. We seek to free people from dependence and enable all Americans to fulfill their own dreams.