Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is exploring a bid to add to the National Defense Authorization Act an amnesty for illegal aliens who join the military, according to Politico. A similar effort concerning the ENLIST Act is already under discussion in the House.
Durbin told Politico that he has already spoken to Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., about the matter. “I think that he would be open to my offering the amendment,” said Durbin. “I’ve been working on it for years with this secretary of Defense and his predecessor and the White House. I think it’s a great idea.” Levin told Politico, “I think it’s relevant enough to our bill, and it’s worth trying to get it added.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., warned that adding the amnesty could impair passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “I think it could threaten the bill, and would cause controversy,” said Sessions. “I don’t think it should be in the NDAA. We have no shortage of personnel for the military. In fact, we are removing large numbers of personnel who want to serve.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this week said he was worried the defense bill could get bogged down over the matter. “We’ve got to be careful that we don’t load up the defense bill. People will say, ‘Wait a minute, then I want the STEM on the NDAA. I want the farm workers on the NDAA,’” said McCain, referring to other provisions of “comprehensive immigration reform.”
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said inclusion of the amnesty might not sink the bill. “I think it makes eminent sense,” Graham said. “I think that hopefully it’d be received in a bipartisan fashion. That’s progress.”
Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-Calif.) quest to include his ENLIST Act in the NDAA has run into substantial opposition. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., this week said he thinks his committee would run into a jurisdictional problem with the Judiciary Committee if ENLIST is included. He also said, "I'm in favor of a discussion on that policy, but not on putting it on our defense bill. I don't think that's where it belongs." McKeon’s committee will continue its markup of the NDAA next week.
Read more in Politico.