Harder Reintroduces Denham Bill to Give Dreamers Pathway to Citizenship through Military Service

June 20, 2019
Press Release
Immigrant Servicemembers More Likely to be Denied Citizenship Than Civilian Immigrants

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) is reintroducing the bipartisan Encourage New Legalized Immigrants to Start Training (ENLIST) Act, which would allow Dreamers to serve in the military and earn Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, also known as “Green Cards,” for their service. Rep. Harder’s Republican predecessor, Rep. Jeff Denham, wrote the legislation and worked to earn majority support for the bill in the last Congress.

“All of our Dreamers should get a path to citizenship, but until Mitch McConnell gets his act together and takes up the Dream and Promise Act in the Senate, we should make sure that Dreamers who serve in the military are rewarded for putting their lives on the line to protect our country,” said Rep. Harder. “I may not agree with my predecessor on everything, but this is the right thing to do and I’m proud to pick up where he left off and reintroduce the ENLIST Act.”

Shocking data from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) has revealed that immigrant servicemembers are denied citizenship at higher rates than civilian immigrants. In the final quarter of 2018, nearly 17% of immigrants who serve in the military were denied citizenship, while just over 11% of civilian immigrants were denied citizenship.

The ENLIST Act would allow Dreamers who serve in the military to automatically earn LPR status or “Green Cards” if they serve in the military and are not dishonorably discharged. Green Card holders are allowed to remain in the country permanently but do not automatically enjoy the benefits of citizenship. Eligible servicemembers may apply for naturalization after one year of service.

The bill was cosponsored by 219 representatives in the last Congress but was never brought to the floor for a vote. Rep. Harder is reintroducing the bill with 18 original cosponsors, including Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Amata Coleman Radewagen, Chris Stewart, Peter DeFazio, Norma Torres, Darren Soto, Ted Lieu, Sanford Bishop, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Lois Frankel, Eliot Engel, Susan Davis, Gerry Connolly, Debbie Dingell, Jim Costa, Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Dan Lipinksi, and Ami Bera.