In a 17 to 13 vote to remove the ability of the President to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement and strengthen the security of our country and communities, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (HR 1148).
Authored by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the bill would strengthen interior enforcement of US immigration laws by granting states and localities the authority to enforce federal immigration laws and defund President Obama’s unilateral executive actions on immigration.
In additionally, the bill would make it more difficult for foreign nationals who pose a national security risk to enter and remain in the US, improving visa security in high risk countries and “protect American communities from dangerous criminal aliens.”
“There are many issues plaguing our nation’s immigration system but the biggestproblem is that our immigration laws are not enforced,” said committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). “While presidents of both parties have not fully enforced our immigration laws, President Obama has unilaterally gutted the interior enforcement of our laws. By refusing to enforce the laws against illegal immigration, President Obama’s immigration policies collectively undermine the integrity of our immigration system and send the message to the world that our laws can be violated with impunity.”
“Congressman Gowdy’s bill remedies this problem by taking the enforcement ‘on/off’ switch away from the president so that one person cannot unilaterally shut down the enforcement of our immigration laws. It also protects our country and neighborhoods from the threats posed by terrorists and dangerous criminal aliens.”
He urged the House “to take it up [the legislation] immediately so that we stop President Obama from unilaterally gutting the enforcement of our immigration laws.”
“Adherence to and respect for the rule of law is the bedrock of our democracy. But for too long, our immigration laws have gone unenforced, and most Americans are rightfully skeptical of any reforms coming out of Washington,” Gowdy said. “This legislation allows our state and local law enforcement to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws, removing the ability of this or future Presidents to unilaterally turn off enforcement. We already entrust them with enforcing every category of law and for providing Members of Congress security at our town halls and events.”
“This bill, which is one part of the committee’s step-by-step process to address our broken immigration system, will ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past and help us earn back the trust of the American public,” Gowdy said.
Similar bills had been tacked onto the original House version of the recently passed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill in the form of "Poison Pill" amendments that would have prevented "any funds from whatever source to be used to carry-out the executive actions announced on November 20, 2014 to grant deferred action to certain unlawful aliens … and four of the [Department of Justice] memos on prosecutorial discretion and immigration enforcement priorities issued in 2011 and 2012 that effectively prevent certain classes of unlawful aliens from being removed from the country."
But the DHS funding measure containing the amendments stalled out in the Senate, where Republicans didn’t have the votes to pass the bill with the Democratically opposed amendments in it. It wasn’t until the last minute when DHS funding ran out that the House agreed to pass a so-called “clean” DHS funding bill stripped of the amendments.
Nevertheless, Republicans said they would continue to work to defund the administration’sunilateral executive actions on immigration.
Following passage of the clean DHS funding legislation, Goodlatte said his committee “is considering several bills that strengthen the enforcement of our immigration laws and stop President Obama’s ability to shut down immigration enforcement efforts unilaterally. One of these bills also contains a prohibition on using funds to enact President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.We must do all we can within our constitutional authority to stop President Obama’s lawlessness.”
In December, Goodlatte signed an amicus brief submitted to the federal court by the American Center for Law and Justice in support of the lawsuit filed by 26 Republican-run states challenging President Obama’s “executive overreach” on immigration. On February 17, Texas US District Judge Andrew S. Hanen temporarily blocked the administration’s executive actions in response to the lawsuit. The judge ruled the administration does not have the power “to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the Department of Homeland Security itself labels as ‘legal presence.’ In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed.”
Key components of the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act include:
- Removing the ability of the President to unilaterally shut down enforcement efforts by granting states and localities specific congressional authorization to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and includes provisions to facilitate their assistance. It also allows states and localities to enact and enforce their own immigration laws as long as they are consistent with federal law. In addition, the bill withholds specific grants from sanctuary cities that defy federal immigration enforcement efforts.
- Making it more difficult for foreign terrorists and other foreign nationals who pose national security concerns to enter and remain in the United States. The bill would prohibit foreign terrorists who threaten national security from receiving immigration benefits, such as naturalization and discretionary relief from removal. The bill also would require no immigration benefits can be provided until all required background and security checks are completed.
- Facilitating and expediting the removal of criminal aliens. In the instance a dangerous criminal alien cannot be removed from the US, the bill would allow DHS to detain them. It also contains provisions from a bill authored by Rep. Ted Poe that would sanction countries that fail to accept return of their nationals who are ordered removed from the US. The bill would also require mandatory detention of illegal immigrants who have been convicted of DUIs.
- Expand the Visa Security Program to additional high risk posts, strengthening the integrity of the student visa program and authorize DHS and the Department of State to revoke visas to foreign nationals if in the security interests of the US.
- Assistance to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in carrying out their jobs of enforcing federal immigration laws by strengthening their ability to make arrests for immigration violations. The bill also would allow all ICE deportation officers and agents to carry firearms.
- Require a report to Congress each year on the abuse of prosecutorial discretion by the administration.
- Defund President Obama’s “unilateral, unconstitutional actions on immigration, whether it be appropriations funds, agency-collected fees or anything else.”