We should count our blessings when dealing with this Republican-controlled Congress. At least they did what some of us called on them to do and stripped out the provision from the NDAA (H.R. 4909) including women in mandatory registration for Selective Service. Unfortunately, they have, once again, failed to utilize the “must-pass” defense authorization bill as a vehicle to fight the broader social engineering and transformation of our military. It appears that this much-vaunted promise of an open amendment process only applies to banal “in the weeds” issues, not to some of the fundamental issues affecting the morale, security, and mission of the military.
One policy Obama has been using to promote his social transformation is opening up the military to illegal aliens he unilaterally amnestied through his DACA program. In September 2014, the Department of Defense announced a new policy allowing military recruiters to enlist illegal immigrants under the auspices of the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI. This was a pilot program created in 2008 designed to recruit foreign nationals with special language skills, but the program was only opened to legal immigrants. These foreign nationals are then given citizenship in return for their service and are able to bypass the 10-year green card process. After just a few months, 43 illegals immigrants were accepted into the MAVNI program. Undoubtedly, more have enlisted over the past year.
The acceptance of DACA recipients into MAVNI was part of a broader push from the administration and allies in Congress to open up all military service to illegal immigrants at a time when soldiers are being let go in large numbers as a result of Obama’s drastic cuts to the military.
The NDAA was a perfect opportunity to explicitly block Obama’s DoD directive to open military positions to DACA recipients. Yet, rather than go on offense, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, at the behest of Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), inserted a provision into the bill (Section 597) expressing the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense has the discretion to authorize the enlistment of illegal aliens when it is “vital to the national interest.” This provision passed in committee by voice vote and Rep. Gallego declared it a “victory for Dreamers.” The pride of the nation, which protects our sovereignty and constitutional republic — was allowed to be used as a conduit to repudiate our rule of law.
In comes Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) last night to the House Rules Committee hearing where members teed up over 100 amendments to the NDAA. Gosar introduced an amendment to strike section 597 of the NDAA and affirm existing law explicitly barring illegal aliens from joining the military. Among all the small-ball amendments made in order last night, Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) did not approve the Gosar amendment.
It’s a shame that Thornberry and Sessions were not willing to stand up for the military and stop Obama from using it as a visa mill for lawlessness. Moreover, the presence of illegal aliens in the military represents a huge security risk. The Obama administration has approved almost every DACA application, and as Judicial Watch discovered in 2014, DHS ostensibly gutted all background checks for DACA applicants, including the requirement of a government issued photo ID. As of a year ago, 282 DACA recipients lost their status after being approved due to their affiliation with gangs.
Moreover, as Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), a co-sponsor of the Gosar amendment, observed, why would there be a need for illegal immigrants in the military when Obama is dramatically downsizing it? “At a time when we are drawing down our military forces, and unable to retain and promote the men and women who have so bravely served our country, it is irrational, demeaning and absurd to ask that we prioritize the DREAMers over our own service members,” said the Virginia congressman.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) likes to brag about his open amendment process, but that process is only truly open to either insignificant issues or bills that will never become law. As I noted during last year’s NDAA vote, Republicans have failed to use the defense bill to stop any area of social engineering, including the unilateral lifting of the ban on transgender individuals in the military, placing women into direct ground combat against the wishes of Marine commanders, and stifling religious freedom in the service. This has taken a toll on morale in the military. In addition to dealing with all the spending and procurement issues, Republicans should be using the NDAA to reverse the terrible polices Obama’s Pentagon has unilaterally foisted upon our military.
Conservatives should pick up the motto of the Army: “This We’ll Defend” and should defend the institution against lawlessness and demand that this amnesty provision be stripped from the defense bill before it receives a final vote on the floor.
“While we are disappointed by the decision to not make the amendment in order, we are actively pursuing other avenues to achieve the same policy objective,” said Gosar in a statement to Conservative Review. “We are confident that this amendment will ultimately receive a vote on the House floor in the near future.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.