Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) will be chairing a hearing this afternoon on a piece of anti-immigrant legislation he has proposed. If passed, the legislation would likely limit the discretion immigration agencies have when it comes to decision-making on immigrant detention and deportations.
The bill called,”The Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act,” would, according to Center for American Progress Immigrant Policy Director Marshall Fitz, prohibit extreme hardship waivers for family reunification of unauthorized spouses and children of US citizens, bar immigration authorities from granting temporary admission to individuals for urgent humanitarian reasons, prohibit cancellation of removal for individuals of good moral character who have lived here for more than 10 years and prevent the Homeland Security secretary from “deferring action” on individuals that are considered a low enforcement priority.
It should be no surprise that Smith is pushing this bill. He has supported a fence along Mexico’s border, opposed giving Mexicans tips on the Minuteman Project, supported reporting illegal immigrants that try to receive hospital treatment and he vehemently opposes “anchor babies.” He has a 100% rating from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization dedicated to limiting immigration to the United States. Its founder, John Tanton, said in Oct 1986, “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”
Firedoglake’s The Dissenter will be live blogging this hearing, which begins at 1:30 pm ET. Sen. David Vitter will be one of the witnesses, along with Chris Crane, President of the National ICE Council; Jessica Vaughan, Director for the Center for Immigration Studies and Margaret Stock, adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
3:42 PM Hearing is adjourned.
3:38 PM Mr. Perlusi is troubled by the legislation’s title, which has the word temptation in it. He is tempted to say a lot. And he calls out Crane, who does not have names and statistics. He says the first thing that should be done is oversight of ICE. He says statistics show a lot of enforcement in the last couple of years. He’s amazed that immigration advocacy groups are pleased by the administration. “This confounds me.”
He says there is a difference between a decisional memo and a deliberative memo.
In conclusion, he asks Stock if the government would be able to deport all persons who were illegal if HALT was passed. Stock says there are just not the resources available for agencies to deport all illegals. ICE uses parole authority and undocumented immigrants as informants to crack down on illegal immigration and this bill would cut back ICE’s ability to do this type of investigating.
Pentagon will take a hit. It’s translators would be impacted, claims Stock.
3:30 PM Crane says there has to be prosecutorial discretion in the field because there are too many cases but he finds there is a mandate in the field to not charge certain individuals right now. Rep. Trey Gowdy thinks memos (which Lofgren and Stock debunked) were being used to advance what they could not get passed legislatively. Crane agrees.
Rep. Gowdy wonders if he could sign up for email updates from ICE. Crane says it would be great if the public could get that but that type of email doesn’t even exist for employees.
Crane says that “Secure Communities” program does not make it so the agency doesn’t need more resources. The agency, he says, has to be straight about the resources it has and does not have.
3:27 PM Rep. Jackson-Lee tells the story of Nelson Delgado, a marine whose undocumented wife had a run-in with the immigration system and that this would be something that became more prevalent under HALT
3:23 PM Rep. Lofgren notes that Crane is under oath and asks Crane about unnamed officials coming forward to talk about ICE agency misconduct. Lofgren wants to know if Crane can talk about what is going on. She doesn’t believe what is being said is true.
Crane specifically comments on the Secure Communities. Lofgren wants to know why he is able to publicly comment on what is going on in the meetings when the bylaws said they are not allowed to discuss the proceedings openly. Crane claims he is allowed and Lofgren plans to follow up.
Lofgren asks Stock about an issue related to Silicon Valley and whether HALT Act would impact scientists and engineers who apply for adjustment status. Stock says it could suspend hundreds of thousands of folks and make it difficult for people to travel. This could make it hard for a spouse to go to a military funeral overseas. Stock thinks 500,000 legal citizens would have problem getting authority to travel nationally.
Lofgren finds the impact on scientists and engineers would create severe impact on economy.
3:19 PM Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee now talking about working with Rep. Smith before. She says we need to own up to important work ICE does but they should not be afraid of policy makers. She says she abhors “criminal aliens who prey upon our citizens.” She believes we provide resources to bring those people to justice.
She asks Stock about the options papers written by people within DHS so new authority could study the suitability. She wonders why there is such an uproar over criminal aliens being allowed to run wild. Rep. Jackson-Lee says mercy cases are being allowed to be considered. She says this memo is a standard practice and even at the Pentagon they do it but they would classify it so anyone who leaks the memo can go to jail.
Jackson-Lee asks if HALT bill is an imperative and Stock says you don’t have to pass this to address standard use of memos in an agency.
3:15 PM Rep. Lofgren asks Stock how discretion helps alleviate hardship. She asks Stock if she could elaborate on use of discretion and how it benefits military men and women?
Abusers usually try to subjugate women through threat of deportation. The reason spouses don’t have papers is that they are victims. Deferred action allows them to get away from their abuser.
Ms. Vaughan says there has been an increase in extreme hardships granted.
We’ve now had over 4,000 people murdered by drug cartels. We are paying hazard duty to Americans in embassy, says Rep. Lofgren
DoD requested discretion for families to alleviate hardship that could be incurred from being in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where violence is rampant
Crane says things getting worse in answer to question from Rep. Smith. He says that prosecutorial discretion memos issued were purely political to satisfy certain groups and they were
Rep. Smith wants to know why there are orders to not arrest certain illegal immigrants.
Crane says no proof. They don’t put anything in writing because they do not want anything to leak out to media. ICE is saying do not talk to anyone in the field.
2:56 PM ET Rep. Gallegly says that he would entertain private bills, as Stock suggested and has entertained such bills. Rep. Zoe Lofgren questions whether this is good enough to justify passing HALT.
2:55 PM ET Some level of prosecutorial discretion exists in all law enforcement programs. Costs of deporting someone are substantial. DHS & ICE need discretion to prioritize and use on people who actually pose threats.
Worksite enforcements have increased substantially. One thousand notices were issued to worksites the day prosecutorial memos were released.
Would not move us toward sensible immigration policy.
2:53 PM ET The HALT Act is costly and irresponsible says Margaret Stock. It would interfere in Obama’s constitutional authority over foreign affairs. This bill will cause huge harm and impact within agencies of DHS. The discretionary authorities this seeks to overturn are important safety valves in a broken system.
She says this act would make it illegal to parole the Afghan woman who had her nose cut off along with her ears.
She details how families could have trouble retaining cancellation of removal while some criminals could retain cancellation.
The HALT Act would create chaos as thousands of adjustment applicants are no longer to travel internationally while they are pending. They would be deprived of advance parole authority.
None of the provisions targeted by HALT provide amnesty to anyone, Stock notes. She says they are going after mechanisms used to provide humanitarian relief.
2:42 PM ET Jessica Vaughan giving her remarks now and saying that this bill would prevent harm to legal workers if agencies were allowed to expand a legalization scheme through executive action. She’s describing how the economy lost millions of jobs as millions of immigrants came and many were given guest worker visas. She says that they are scaling back immigration enforcement and working to legalize 11 million immigrants so they can work here.
She points out that states are being allowed to exist as sanctuary states and escape enforcement. She claims only one-fourth of voters support how Obama Administration has handled immigration policy. She says there is no shortage of immigrants willing to play by rules and do it the right way. She says 3 million are waiting overseas to get into US and that illegal immigration is unfair to these people.
She says too many of the worst criminal immigrants are being allowed to remain at large. She tells a story of an illegal immigrant attacking a child.
She claims administration is relaxing extreme hardship standard as a way to carry out administrative amnesty. She wonders why so many are qualifying for this program and why they have quadrupled.
2:38 PM ET Chris Crane speaking now about how ICE & DHS are misleading the public on the secure communities program. State representatives and interest groups are finding ICE needs oversight and transparency. He says he was appointed to advisory committee on Secure Communities. He is the only advisor from ICE. He talks about being part of a committee that has engaged in methods of selecting members that require oversight.
He says ICE’s enforcement policies should be public but won’t because they are under orders to not arrest certain groups of “aliens.” Other policies he claims are misleading: the new prosecutorial discretion memo. He says this could overwhelm officers with work and may be why ICE is having trouble with training officers in the field.
He suggests that ICE is taking away officers’ discretion and making sure nation’s immigration laws aren’t being enforced.
2:33 PM ET Sadly, Sen. David Vitter did not want to take the stand and won’t be testifying at this hearing. Perhaps, he heard Rep. Lofgren’s opening statement and decided he would be made to look foolish if he stayed.
2:32 PM ET Rep. Zoe Lofgren – Bush Administration averaged 2900 grants of deferred action on parole and Obama Administration has had a lower rate of grants of parole under Obama
Rep. Conyers asks if Rep. Smith knows that. “You couldn’t have known that and written this bill?” The basic thrust of the bill is Obama cannot be trusted with this authority.
Conyers notes record deportations under Obama.
2:31 PM ET Rep. Smith is assuming that they won’t have this president that endorses backdoor immigration at January 2013, which is why in the bill he has these changes to policy ending then
2:27 PM ET Rep. Conyers: My friend Lamar Smith is saying Obama is such a great threat that he and only he should have his authority withdrawn. This is not an attack on the presidency but an attack on the president itself. Am I being overcritical who suggests this is not a case?
This is not an attack on the president’s office. This is an attack on Obama himself, says Conyers.
Rep. Smith says this is an effort to stop what we see as abusive executive decisions that I think we would like to prevent and in my opinion I think he has abused his privileges. I would be willing to apply this to future presidents.
2:25 PM ET Rep. Conyers clearly thinks he’s being punked and asks who came up with this title. He is not being punked. Rep. Smith is serious and they thought this was an appropriate title.
1:20 PM ET Rep. Zoe Lofgren now says this is a waste of time and money to be deliberating this bill. She says ICE’s limits to deportations is to focus on the immigrants that are truly criminal. She points out that the president has set records for deportations and worksite enforcement.
The current chair of Judiciary Committee and a number of other GOP representatives signed something in favor of prosecutorial discretion, which this bill opposes today. Lofgren wonders why it was good back then but wrong today.
Lofgren points out that factors for agency discretion is not new. And she lists off how this would impact military spouses, child bomb victims, victims of humanitarian disasters, etc.
Lofgren mentions how Sen. David Vitter enjoyed prosecutorial discretion when he was embroiled in a prostitution scandal.
2:18 PM ET If Obama administration has its way, millions of immigrants will be allowed to live in the United States. It will saddle our communities with having to provide care and it will make it hard to take down criminal immigrants, asserts Smith. He says this legislation will put a halt to “backdoor amnesty.”
2:15 PM ET Rep. Lamar Smith claims the ICE director is allowing “backdoor amnesty” — letting immigrants skirt our immigration laws. And he says that DHS has a plan for administrative amnesty.
2:12 PM ET Rep. Elton Gallegly opens the hearing. He says that Democrats sent a letter to Pres. Obama that they plan to ensure this legislation is vetoed. He says that this would stop immigration amnesty.
Congress can pass private bills to help non-US citizens when we deem it wise. He looks forward to hear from the witnesses.
1:59 PM ET Wait…Not yet… But now there’s an image telling me what room this hearing is in—Room 2141. If anyone is looking for it, this is where it is being held now.
1:52 PM ET Hearing is now about to begin.
1:30 PM ET Hearing delayed. Right now this image appears.
“E Pluribus Unum” — the GOP’s Latin defense for anti-immigration legislation, I think.