The Obama administration should not take the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorDemocrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war Paul replaces Cruz as GOP agitator GOP shifting on immigration MORE (R-Va.) as a reason to move on allowing more illegal immigrants to serve in the military, according to Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (D-Ill.).
The White House earlier this month reportedly asked the Pentagon to wait on shifting policy in order to give House Republicans time to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The administration should not reverse course in the wake of Cantor’s loss, he said.
The Defense Department’s plan would allow immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children but have work permits to serve in uniform if they qualify for the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program.
The effort lets in a select number of non-citizens with specific language and medical skills to join the military and gain a path to citizenship. Pentagon leaders in recent weeks stated they hoped to expand the program, allowing more young illegal immigrants to sign up.
Last month Cantor successfully blocked an attempt by a fellow Republican to attach language to the 2015 defense authorization bill giving green cards to illegal immigrants who serve honorably in the military.
At the time, Cantor downplayed concerns that his primary election influenced his decision to block the legislation, commonly known as the ENLIST Act, even though his opponent, David Brat, was hammering him on immigration issues.