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Republicans Refuse to Grant Green Cards to Undocumented Immigrants Who Serve in the U.S. Military

Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Republicans and Democrats agree on very little in the debate over immigration reform. Democrats want a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants. Republicans are reflexively opposed. Democrats want to give them a chance to get green cards. Republicans want to beef up border security.

But there should one thing that everyone agrees on: If you are an undocumented immigrant and you serve in the United States military, we’ll grant you a green card. If you are willing to put your life on the line for this country, then you deserve the right to stay here.

But for some Republicans, even that is unacceptable.

Last year, Republican Jeff Denham attempted to include language into the defense bill to grant green cards to undocumented immigrants who served in the military. He never received a vote and withdrew the language under the hope that his stand-alone bill would receive a vote in 2014. Denham's bill, known as the ENLIST Act, has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, but Buck McKeon, chairman of the Armed Forces Committee, opposes it and will not give it a vote. In response, Denham announced on Friday that he would seek to insert the language into this year’s defense bill, which the House will take up in the coming weeks.

It didn’t take long for Republican leaders to shoot it down. In an email to the press, Doug Heye, spokesperson to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, wrote, "No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order.” Just like that, Denham’s bill is dead.