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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    American Legion shoots down idea to tie immigration to military service

    By Jacqueline Klimas and Stephen Dinan
    The Washington Times
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Republicans seek defense bill add-on


    Photo by: J. Scott Applewhite
    House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Republican, said he will not include legalization in the main bill he introduces, which means it will be up to someone else to offer an amendment in the committee or on the floor. The panel will begin debating the defense policy bill at the end of this month and hold a full committee vote May 7. (Associated Press)


    The American Legion says it is opposed to trying to tie immigration into the annual defense policy debate, calling it an unacceptable "amnesty" and dealing a serious blow to Republicans desperate to pass some sort of legalization of illegal immigrants ahead of November's elections.

    Several Republicans say they want to attach a small legalization that would grant an explicit chance at citizenship to young illegal immigrants willing to join the military.

    But immigration is so combustible as an issue that some defense advocates fear that adding a legalization provision to the National Defense Authorization Act could imperil the rest of the critical work in the defense bill, which sets troop and equipment levels, oversees detainee policy and settles hundreds of other important military issues.

    "The NDAA needs to stand alone, and I think attaching an issue as contentious and complex as immigration and recruitment policy would only stall the NDAA," said John Stovall, director of the American Legion's national security division. "Immigration policy needs to be debated on its own outside the debate of NDAA."

    The defense policy bill is always an attractive target for add-ons because it is considered the one must-pass piece of policy legislation every year.

    Republicans have been looking at the defense bill as other chances for immigration debate have faded.

    Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado and Rep. Jeff Denham of California have filed bills to let some young illegal immigrants join the military and be granted legal permanent residence, labeled as a green card, which is a key step on the pathway to citizenship.

    The young illegal immigrants in question are considered among the most sympathetic cases in the immigration debate. Most were brought to the U.S. by their parents, with little say in the matter, and often have no knowledge of their birth countries.

    The decisions are freighted with political significance.

    Immigrant rights advocates say passing a military legalization bill is the least Republicans can do to make amends for House votes last year to strip illegal immigrants of tax breaks and reverse President Obama's non-deportation policies.

    "Here comes another moment of truth for the House leadership. Will they coddle their Party's extremists — again — or will they at least try to protect vulnerable members?" Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, said last week when the debate over immigration and the defense bill was first reported by Breitbart.com.

    One key question is how Republicans will proceed.

    The House Armed Services Committee will begin debating the defense policy bill at the end of this month and hold a full committee vote May 7.

    Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Republican, said he will not include legalization in the main bill he introduces, which means it will be up to someone else to offer an amendment in the committee or on the floor.

    Those who want a crackdown on illegal immigration consider that a victory because it's tougher to add language to a bill than remove it.

    Mr. Coffman said he still may try to offer his policy as an amendment.

    "I have not ruled out putting an amendment on the NDAA that would allow these young people the chance to serve this country in uniform and earn a path to citizenship through their military service," said Mr. Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran and member of the committee.

    House leaders haven't taken a stand, but one aide said they are comfortable with how Mr. McKeon is handling the debate.

    National Guard Association of the United States has backed Mr. Coffman's bill. A spokesman says the association believes it should play a role as Congress debates defense issues this year, particularly because House Republicans are unlikely to move legalization legislation on its own.

    "We understand why some believe it could be a distraction, but we continue to believe the bill offers a pathway for immigration that needs to be part of the broader debate," said John Goheen, communications director for the association.

    The American Legion, however, said it not want to mix immigration and defense policy and opposes granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrants in the first place.

    "The legion's long-standing policy remains that we are opposed to any policy, any legislative action that amounts to amnesty, and I think that would fall under that definition," Mr. Stovall said.

    The issue is apparently too hot for some other groups.

    Neither Concerned Veterans for America nor Amvets responded to repeated requests for comment. Veterans of Foreign Wars declined to comment.

    Mr. Denham's bill would have the military accept illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before age 15 and who were in the country before 2012.

    Mr. Coffman's bill builds off Mr. Obama's 2012 non-deportation policy for "dreamers," the name young illegal immigrants have given themselves. Mr. Coffman's legislation says anyone who receives a work permit under that non-deportation policy can join the military and get in line for citizenship.

    That could be even tougher to pass than Mr. Denham's amendment because it would represent an official congressional approval of those non-deportation policies, said Rosemary Jenks, government relations director for NumbersUSA, which advocates a crackdown on illegal immigration.

    Whether an amendment could win approval in committee is in doubt. Mr. Coffman's bill doesn't have many Republican co-sponsors, and none of them other than Mr. Coffman is on the committee. Mr. Denham's bill has about a half-dozen Republicans on the committee as co-sponsors, but it's unclear whether they would approve of mixing the immigration debate with the military policy debate.

    That likely means the issue ends up back at the feet of House Republican leaders, who eventually have to decide whether to allow a floor debate on the issue.

    "I don't know that there would be enough Republicans to pass it in committee. On the floor, that's a whole different thing," Ms. Jenks said. "If Denham insists on offering his amendment on the floor and [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor tells him he can, first of all I think there's a huge bloody fight and it very possibly passes. But all of this depends on, [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob] Goodlatte signing off on the language and Eric Cantor driving it."

    Mr. Cantor's office didn't reply to a request for comment.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...ie-immigratio/
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    Senior Member vistalad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    The American Legion, however, said it not want to mix immigration and defense policy and opposes granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrants in the first place.

    "The legion's long-standing policy remains that we are opposed to any policy, any legislative action that amounts to amnesty, and I think that would fall under that definition," Mr. Stovall said.
    I contacted the AFL approximately four years ago, re controlling illegal immigration and protecting jobs for veterans. Turned out that they already knew all about it.

    A fair number of veterans come from small towns, where opportunities are limited. I guess that they weren't fighting, to make the world safe for the illegals who are undercutting Americans for jobs. 'Bamacrats must disgust them.
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    Obama pressures American Legion to allow amnesty bill

    12:49 AM 04/18/2014
    Neil Munro
    White House Correspondent

    President Barack Obama is meeting today with the head of the American Legion, in what amnesty opponents fear is a yet another effort to bypass public opposition to passage of a massive business-backed immigration increase.

    House Speaker John Boehner also added to the alarms Thursday night, when the Wall Street Journal reported that he told business donors gathered last month in Las Vegas that he is “hellbent on getting this done.”

    The American Legion is suddenly a player in the immigration fight because it has come out in opposition to a minor, but critical amendment to the draft 2015 defense bill. The amendment would broaden the existing rules allowing illegal immigrants to get slots in the U.S. military that are sought by American volunteers.

    If the amendment is added to the bill, and then passed by the full House, it would allow the Senate and House to include a large immigration rewrite in the must-pass defense bill.

    That immigration rewrite could consist of a small amnesty for younger illegals, or a copy of the Senate’s June 2013 bill, which would triple the inflow of legal immigrants and guest-workers to 40 million over the next decade. That huge inflow is roughly equal to the number of Americans youths who will join the workforce by 2024 in search of decent jobs.

    The amendment maneuver would allow top GOP leaders to push an immigration bill past their caucus.

    Most of the GOP caucus is opposed to the Senate’s immigration bill, which would likely worsen job-competition against their constituents and also increase the political power of the Democrat-leaning Latino electorate.

    The opposition is also visible in the Senate, where Sen. Jeff Sessions has argued the GOP will gain from a low-immigration, high-wage policy.

    Many aspects of the Senate bill — especially the increased inflow of guest-workers — are deeply unpopular among GOP supporters and swing-voters, whom the party needs to vote in November. However, the bill is popular among progressives and wealthy voters.
    The amendment is dubbed the ENLIST Act, and is being sponsored by GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who represents a farm district in California. Agricultural employers are strong backers of immigration increases, because they prefer to hire cheap migrant workers instead of investing in new crop-picking machinery.

    In turn, Denham’s amendment is reportedly backed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, despite growing pressure on immigration from a primary opponent in his Virginia district.

    So far, the amendment has been locked up in disputes among GOP legislators, and it was apparently blocked this week when the American Legion announced its opposition.

    “Attaching an issue as contentious and complex as immigration and recruitment policy would only stall the” defense bill, John Stovall, director of the Legion’s national security division told The Washington Times. “The legion’s long-standing policy remains that we are opposed to any policy, any legislative action that amounts to amnesty, and I think that would fall under that definition,” he added.
    That’s a big problem for Obama and the advocates of more immigration, Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller. “If the American Legion is saying it is bad, they can either persuade them or bad-mouth the legion,“ Krikorian said. “I don’t think they be able to browbeat them.”

    The legion is resistant to political pressure because its policies are strongly shaped by its individual members, not just by top leaders. The group is also insulated from a lot of D.C. influence because it is based in Indianapolis, Ind. — not in D.C., he added.

    During the previous business-backed push for increased immigration, in 2006 and 2007, the legion announced its opposition, and was lashed by groups that favor more more immigration, he said. “They tried to intimidate them and the legion told them basically to get lost [but] it may not work that way this time,” he said.

    “I can’t imagine that the Legion would cave,” Roy Beck, the director of NumbersUSA, an immigration reform group that seeks lower immigration levels, told TheDC.

    The White House’s daily calendar, shows the president will meet the American Legion’s head, Daniel Dellinger, in the Oval Office at 11.35 am.

    “The President will meet with the National Commander and Executive Director of the American Legion. This meeting is closed press,” said the White House calendar.

    On Thursday, Obama said he and Cantor are in agreement on the need for an major immigration rewrite.

    The two talked by phone this Wednesday. Even though Cantor criticized Obama’s immigration-enforcement policies the next day, “it was a pretty friendly conversation,” Obama told reporters Thursday.

    “I also know it’s hard politics for Republicans because there are some in their base that are very opposed to this… [but] there are [foreign] families all across the country who are experiencing great hardship and pain because this is not getting resolved,” Obama said.
    “It’s a matter of political will. It’s not any longer a matter of policy. And I’m going to continue to encourage them to get this done,” he insisted.

    Boehner’s renewed commitment to passage of a foreign-worker bill was revealed late Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.
    “Speaker John Boehner and other senior House Republicans are telling donors and industry groups that they aim to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of many Republicans to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections,” the journal reported.

    “Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Mr. Boehner said at a Las Vegas fundraiser last month he was ‘hellbent on getting this done.’”

    The public is strongly opposed to increased immigration, partly because wages are at a 63-year record low share of annual income, profits are at a 85-year record high of annual income, and the middle-class is shrinking fast.

    Last June, the CBO reported that the Senate bill would shift even more of the nation’s annual income away from wages earners and towards investors.

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/04/18/ob...-amnesty-bill/



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