Republicans block immigration measures

US FlagRepublican leaders in the House of Representatives intervened on Friday in order to stop a vote on immigration legislation in the United States, dealing a serious blow to attempts to overhaul the widely-denigrated system during election year.  The move came after a Republican congressman’s plan to try to force a vote in the coming week on the issue of giving legal status to undocumented immigrants serving in the military was announced, which resulted in strong conservative opposition.

Republican Jeff Denham called his bill the ENLIST act, saying he would be seeking a vote in the form of an amendment to the popular National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); however, Doug Heye, spokesman for House majority leader Eric Cantor, quickly came forth to say: “No proposed ENLIST amendments to NDAA will be made in order.”

Heye also said that there would be no separate vote allowed on the measure.  This is the latest in a series of setbacks for the attempt by President Obama to see comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed by Congress and boost border security, give legal status to around 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, and remake legal worker programs.

With even Denham’s extremely limited measure being prevented from advancing in spite of a wide coalition of farmer, business, religious and labor groups pushing for such an overhaul, the new developments seem to make movement on this issue in the House of Representatives very unlikely this year.