Immigration reform supporters are pursuing “gimmicks” ranging from granting amnesty through military service to the needless exploitation of children, according to Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian.

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder admonished public schools that they must enroll students who are in the U.S. illegally, and members of both parties continued their advocacy of the ENLIST Act, which would allow illegal immigrants to earn legal status by serving in the U.S. military. All of this comes as leaders in both parties push to get legislation done in the face of fierce conservative opposition.

On Thursday, Holder told school leaders across the country that denying enrollment because students are here illegally is unacceptable and a violation of federal law. His position is consistent with a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Texas law at the time that allowed districts either to deny enrollment to such students or charge their families tuition to cover the costs for their education.

Krikorian said the puzzling aspect of Holder’s comments is not that he holds that position but that he felt the need to articulate it.

“Why he’s even making this announcement isn’t really clear. I think it’s more for political purposes to make them sound proactive to their left flank because there’s really no change in the law that he’s announcing. This has been the case for 30 years,” said Krikorian, who says between these comments by Holder and President Obama’s unilateral implementation of much of the DREAM Act, it’s clear the administration is using children to create emotional momentum for his immigration agenda.

“The DREAM Act was designed merely as an advertising and marketing gimmick so they could say, ‘Look at these young people. They’ve lived here since they were three months old. They’re valedictorians. They want to join the military and hunt down America’s enemies. Therefore, lets give all 12 million illegal aliens amnesty.’ It’s really kind of transparent and cynical,” Krikorian said.

“This announcement by Eric Holder I think is really more of the same. It sends the implicit message that people who don’t want to pass (New York Sen.) Chuck Schumer’s amnesty bill hate little kids. That’s the crude message that they’re trying to send,” he said.

Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Mark Krikorian:

Krikorian sais he’s actually not opposed to all of the DREAM Act. He said children who came here as babies and toddlers should be given a break, but those who arrived as teenagers should not. However, Krikorian also foresees a day mandates for schools to enroll subsequent children who come illegally should be scrapped.

“With the number of illegal immigrants we’ve allowed to settle here, I actually don’t think it would be a good idea to keep illegal alien kids out of school now. I think it is something, though, that once we get to the point of an amnesty, and I think we are going to do that after we fix the enforcement system. As part of that deal going forward for future purposes, then yes, I think localities should be allowed to prohibit illegal immigrants from school,” Krikorian said.

Meanwhile, the delicate dance of drafting immigration reform legislation in the House proceeds cautiously. While various components are drafted primarily through the Judiciary Committee, a fierce debate is brewing in the Armed Services Committee over the ENLIST Act. Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., the bill would confer legal immigrant status to any people in the nation illegally who serve in the military.

Proponents see the ENLIST Act as a positive incentive for young illegals to make a major contribution to their new country by risking their lives in exchange for legal residence. Krikorian sees a slippery slope.

“This bill is also a gimmick like the DREAM Act. There are no illegal aliens in the military. It’s illegal to enlist if you’re an illegal alien. Occasionally, someone sneaks through, but not very often. The legislation would basically create a program allowing illegal aliens to enlist in the military and thereby get amnesty,”

Krikorian said this bill is mostly hype but does make life tougher for American citizens.

“The number of people it would cover is minuscule, a few hundred a year maybe, because the military is actually harder to get into than most colleges. There’s lots of requirements and only a very small number of people would actually get accepted,” Krikorian said.

“No. 2, we’re shrinking the military overall apart from any immigration aspect. The military is downsizing, so opening up enlistment to illegal aliens means that Americans who want to get into the military will actually be elbowed out and will not be able to join the service because illegal aliens are being allowed to enlist,” he said.

Furthermore, Krikorian sees the ENLIST Act as a Trojan Horse for much greater amnesty.

“The point of the gimmick is to be able to get it to the Senate so that Harry Reid can then add more amnesty stuff to it and bring it back to the House, at which point the House leadership will say, ‘You have to vote for this whether you like it or not,'” he said.

Despite that dire review, Krikorian does not believe the ENLIST Act or any other immigration bill will pass the House this year, meaning supporters would have to start from scratch again next year in a new Congress.


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