This week, the House Armed Services Committee is poised to set in train a legislative process that could well translate into the suicide of the Republican Party.
The committee will consider — and, all other things being equal, may actually adopt — a controversial amendment to be offered by Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It would allow illegal aliens brought here as minors — so-called “Dreamers” — to serve in the U.S. military and, thereby, obtain American citizenship.
Should that happen, proponents of a broader amnesty for those here illegally would likely try use the House-Senate conference on this “must-pass” legislation to secure as much as possible of the “comprehensive immigration” bill adopted last year by the upper chamber.
Sixteen retired flag and general officers have just written the Armed Services Committee’s chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, urging him not to permit his panel’s principal legislation to be misused in this fashion.
They warned: As longtime members and leaders of the armed forces, we believe it a serious mistake to open military service to those known to have violated the laws of the United States.
Whether they have done so by coming to this country illegally and living here in violation of immigration statutes, either at their own initiative or as a result of the actions of family members, they have acted in a manner inconsistent with the oath to support and defend the Constitution that they will be required to swear upon enlisting.
Until now, such conduct has been deemed disqualifying and we believe it should continue to be so.
A further argument against such an amendment is that it is being advanced at the very moment that the armed forces are being forced by misbegotten budget cuts to terminate the service of thousands of American citizens currently in uniform.
It will be hard to portray what is afoot as other than insinuating illegal aliens into the military to do jobs U.S. citizens are not only willing to do; they are willing to die to do. The impact on morale within the ranks, to say nothing of possible problems with the loyalties of such aliens, cannot be underestimated.
If the merits of the case were not compelling enough to warrant resisting the Coffman amendment, there’s this reality: If House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, join Democrats in adopting — either in whole or in part — amnesty in the present election cycle, they will surely imperil their widely expected success at the polls this Fall.
That’s right. A GOP base that has been given little cause for enthusiasm by their party in Congress will almost certainly respond to a perceived betrayal on a central plank — no amnesty before the border is secure — the way many did when presented with Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012: by staying home on Election Day.
To be sure, Republican politicians are being seduced by the campaign contributions of big donors and even Democrats to adopt amnesty legislation this year. The pressure has only intensified as such proponents claim to be worried that prospective GOP gains, particularly in the Senate, may foreclose future opportunities for immigration reform.
Similarly, despite abundant evidence to the contrary — notably, a persuasive study recently published by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum — Republican leaders have been persuaded of a preposterous idea: By agreeing to amnesty, they will win the hearts, minds and loyalties of enough Hispanics to assure their party’s future electoral success with a demographic that has overwhelmingly voted Democratic in most recent presidential elections.
The truth is that, even if Hispanic voters prove in some significant number to be other than “undocumented Democrats,” such new recruits are unlikely to offset the losses among alienated Republicans — an electorate that won’t be able to bring itself to vote for politicians so indifferent to the security, economic and other negative repercussions of burgeoning illegal immigration, fueled by unsecured borders and the promise of amnesty.
So, if Eric Cantor, Mike Coffman, Speaker John Boehner, and other like-minded Republicans actually succeed in transforming the annual National Defense Authorization Bill into a vehicle for conferring an amnesty on illegal aliens, they will not only wind up harming the U.S. military and the nation as a whole. They risk achieving in the process the astonishing feat of political suicide for their party.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times, and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio. Read more reports from Frank Gaffney — Click Here Now.
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