Cantor: Primary had no role in immigration call

 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) downplayed the idea that concerns over his primary election prevented leadership from including an amendment in the Defense authorization bill that would grant green cards to young illegal immigrants who served in the military.

"I have been very definitive on this: I am for the principle, but I am not for using NDAA to do this," Cantor told The Washington Post on Wednesday when asked if the primary was a factor. "This is not a political matter, this is a serious issue involving military service."

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Cantor reiterated a point made by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this week, saying no decision has been made about voting on a proposal sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) as a stand-alone bill.  

"Well, no decision has been made, the members involved are still working out the language, but no decisions have been made," he said. 

Cantor is expected to win his primary next month against opponent, David Brat. But some have suggested the decision not to include the measure was to shore up conservative support.  

Cantor said the Defense bill is not the "appropriate" place for the bill. But the majority leader has consistently supported an effort to grant legalization and eventual citizenship for young people brought to the United States illegally.

"For some time now, weeks if not months, I have said publicly my position has always been that first of all, service in our military is one of the highest honors that anyone could actually fulfill and that if you’re a kid who was brought here by your parents, in many cases unbeknownst to that person, and you want to serve in our military and you know no other country as home, you ought to be able to do that and be able to become a citizen if you have served in our country’s armed forces," he said.