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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak on behalf of my amendment to authorize the enlistment in the Armed Forces of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. under 15 years of age, who entered the country on or before December 31, 2011, and who are otherwise qualified for enlistment.

This amendment will also provide a way for this group of undocumented immigrants to be lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence by reason of their honorable service and sacrifice in the United States military.

As a Nation, we have never made citizenship a requirement for service in our Armed Forces. Half of the U.S. military enlistees in the 1840s were immigrants, and more than 660,000 military veterans sought naturalization between 1862 and 2000.

Mr. Chairman, I have worn the uniform. I have served with many immigrants in Desert Storm and Somalia. My uncle and godfather served with immigrants during Vietnam. My grandfather and grandmother served in Korea, where Europeans were encouraged to sign up for the United States military. Filipinos from 1947 to 2000 were encouraged to sign up and serve in the military.

This is one opportunity for those that have gone to school here, that have graduated from high school, that are in our communities, to show their ultimate support for this great Nation and are willing to sacrifice in support of our country.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. DENHAM. In addressing his concern about the cost of this bill, it is yet to be defined. It's something that we will need the administration to define the cost of, as we would with any bill that goes through the appropriations process. We look forward to working not only with the gentleman from California on the amendment, but certainly working with the administration to define an unknown cost that we are realizing today.

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Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Chairman, let me just finish by saying the precedence is here. Legal permanent residents are already serving in our military from American Samoa, from Micronesia, from Palau. We have a long history of over 660,000 immigrants serving in our military from other countries.

This seems like something that should be a bipartisan, commonsense way to address this problem, allowing people to not only be able to serve in the military, that great opportunity that they have, but, ultimately, the ultimate sacrifice, giving your life for a great country like this.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw my amendment.

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