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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2010 -- (Senate - October 07, 2009)

AMENDMENT NO. 2644

Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and to call up Vitter amendment No. 2644.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is no amendment currently pending, so the clerk will report.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I present this amendment on behalf of myself and my distinguished colleague from Utah, Mr. Bennett, who will speak after me. It is a very simple but, I believe, a very important amendment. It says we are not going to do a census that doesn't ask some basic questions about citizenship and immigration status.

Specifically, the amendment reads:

None of the funds provided in this act or any other act for any fiscal year may be used for collection of census data that does not include questions regarding United States citizenship and immigration status.

I believe this is a vital amendment for two reasons. If we don't adopt this amendment or other legislation, the census will move forward and will not distinguish in any way between citizens and folks in this country legally and noncitizens. That, in my opinion, is absolutely crazy, again, for two reasons.

No. 1, the census is done every 10 years to give Congress an important tool in terms of many things that Congress and other bodies of government do: funding, public policy, different programs. Clearly, we need accurate, specific information about the illegal alien question in this country. I assume we will all agree, however we come down on the issue, that illegal immigration is a big issue and a big problem. We debate that issue, we try to solve that issue in different ways all the time in this body. Yet we would do a census, we would spend tens of billions of dollars on a census, and we wouldn't ask the question: Are you a citizen and, if not, are you in this country legally or illegally? That is absolutely crazy. The census does ask those questions in the long form. They are able to get the long form completed. They are able to compile information, but that is not the full census; that is a tiny percentage of the full population.

So if we are going to spend tens of billions of dollars every 10 years to do a major census, it seems absolutely a no-brainer that we would get full and accurate information about the number of illegals in this country.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the single most important thing we use the decennial census for is to reapportion the House of Representatives, to decide how many House Members each State gets. Under the Federal plan, the way the census is designed, the House would be reapportioned counting illegal aliens. States that have large populations of illegals would be rewarded for that. Other States, including my home State of Louisiana, would be penalized.

I believe it is very clear that when the Founders set up our representative democracy, they didn't think of the basic fundamental institutions of our government as representing folks who come into the country breaking the law, staying here illegally. I think it is shocking to most Americans when they hear we would even consider reapportioning the House of Representatives counting illegals, but that is exactly the plan now. Of course, we would have no opportunity to debate that or to adopt a new plan unless the census distinguishes between citizens and legals and illegals, which my amendment would demand we do.

This isn't some theoretical issue. This is a very concrete issue, a very meaningful issue about how much representation each State has in the House of Representatives. There are many States that will lose representation from what they would otherwise have if illegal aliens are counted in congressional reapportionment. Specifically, the States of Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina would lose out. So I wish to specifically speak to my colleagues in this body--Republicans and Democrats alike--from those States: Please support the Vitter and Bennett amendment No. 2644. It has a direct impact on whether you are going to have less representation in the House of Representatives or more. Let me be even more blunt. If you vote against this amendment, you are voting against the interests of your State. If you vote against this amendment, you are voting for your State having less representation in the House of Representatives than they would if illegals are not counted in reapportionment. Again, with that in mind, I wish to repeat the list: Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. For Senators from those States, it is a vote directly about their State's own interests and their State's representation in the House of Representatives.

More broadly speaking, I think the huge majority of Americans would certainly take the view I am suggesting, which is we should not apportion Members of the House based, in part, on illegals. We should not reward States for having large illegal populations and penalize States that do not. I think that is on a different planet from where our Founding Fathers were in setting up the basic Democratic institutions of our country, and there is no more basic and no more Democratic institution than the House of Representatives.

With that, I urge all my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to support this amendment.

I yield time to my distinguished colleague from Utah, Mr. Bennett.

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Mr. VITTER. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

AMENDMENT NO. 2630

Mr. VITTER. I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up Vitter amendment No. 2630.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I will read the amendment to explain what it is about:

None of the amounts made available in this title under the heading ``COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING SERVICES'' may be used in contravention of section 6429(a) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

That is the entire amendment. What does that mean? That Illegal Immigration Reform Act is about the mandate that local government has to fully cooperate with Federal immigration officials with regard to immigration enforcement. It doesn't mean that local governments become immigration agents, that they have the affirmative responsibility to do all of that work for the proper Federal authorities. It does mean that when they come across illegal immigrants and arrest them, for instance, for local law violations, they are dutybound under Federal law to properly inform Federal authorities.

The problem is, in several select jurisdictions, so-called sanctuary cities, they have made the affirmative public statement and decision that they are not going to do that. They will not comply with Federal law. They are going to ignore Federal immigration law, and they are not going to cooperate in any way with Federal immigration enforcement authorities.

We can debate whether that is good policy or bad, but we don't really need to get to that level of debate because it is present Federal law that cooperation must be extended by local police agencies and local governments. These sanctuary cities--it is beyond debate--are violating current Federal law. They are taking Federal law and saying: Too bad. We are not going to have anything to do with it. We will violate Federal law. We will not cooperate in any way with Federal immigration enforcement.

My amendment says if you violate Federal law, you will have to live by some consequences. Specifically, you will lose COPS funding for your specific jurisdiction. If you want to do that, if you want to flaunt the law, there is going to be a meaningful consequence. You will lose community policing grants.

I believe this is reasonable and necessary because there are a number of sanctuary cities that have made the affirmative decision that they are going
to flaunt and ignore and violate Federal law, have nothing to do with proper enforcement of Federal immigration law and the necessary cooperation between those Federal agencies and local law enforcement.

Nobody wants to make local law enforcement immigration enforcement. Nobody wants to place on them some affirmative duty to do the work of Federal immigration offices, which is significant. We are not trying to place that additional burden or some unfunded mandate on them. But existing Federal law does say they need to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement. They can't have an affirmative policy that when they arrest, for a local charge, somebody who is in the country illegally, they forget about that, turn their eye to it, and never notify Federal authorities.

Tragically, this bad sanctuary city policy has had tragic results. I will mention one such instance. This involved an illegal alien, Edwin Ramos, who is currently being charged with three counts of murder in San Francisco. That is because he shot and killed Tony Bologna, 48, and his two sons--Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16--after they were driving home from a family picnic last June. Apparently, this dispute started after Tony Bologna blocked the gunman's car from completing a left turn. That was enough to merit getting out of the car and unloading a semiautomatic weapon on Bologna's vehicle, killing him and both of his sons.

Ramos is a native of El Salvador. He was in the country illegally. He is a reputed member of the gang MS-13, and had previously been found guilty of two felonies as a juvenile; not exactly misdemeanors either, a gang-related assault and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman. Ramos had been arrested at least three times before this triple murder. He was living illegally in the United States. There was no documentation of legal status, no temporary visa status.

So why wasn't he deported when he was arrested, particularly on violent charges? Because San Francisco is a sanctuary city. They have made the affirmative determination that established a policy of breaking Federal law and not having anything to do with immigration enforcement. That led directly to a triple murder of three innocent American citizens. This is one tragic story. There are others.

The bottom line is, we have a Federal law that should prevent that. We need that law enforced and lived by, by all local jurisdictions. The Vitter amendment will put some reasonable teeth behind enforcement and some meaningful consequence when local authorities choose to completely ignore and violate Federal law.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense, reasonable amendment.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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