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Public Statements

Vitter and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith to Introduce Bill to Stop Amnesty by Administrative Fiat

Press Release

Location: Washington DC

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced the Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act (H.R. 2497), legislation to prevent the Obama administration from abusing its authority to grant massive administrative amnesty to illegal immigrants. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus, will introduce an identical version in the Senate this week.

"The Obama administration has taken steps to pass their amnesty agenda through executive order and completely bypass Congress. In the Senate we've already rejected some attempts at granting amnesty for illegal aliens by defeating the DREAM Act in last year's lame duck session. The administration has now taken their amnesty push to new levels by attempting to give DHS officials and other agencies the ability to grant amnesty, which is exactly why we're introducing the HALT Act. Awarding amnesty over the objections of Congress and the American people would be a slap in the face to taxpayers, and especially to legal immigrants," said Senator Vitter.

"Congress has defeated amnesty for illegal immigrants several times in recent years but this has not stopped President Obama from trying a backdoor amnesty. Over the course of the last year, the Obama administration has ignored the will of Congress and the American people by using executive branch authority to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S," said Chairman Smith.

"While this authority is justifiable when used responsibly, it's clear this Administration plans not to use but to abuse these powers. If the President gets his way, millions of illegal immigrants will be allowed to legally live and work in the U.S. without a vote of Congress. That is why I have introduced the HALT Act, which will prevent the Obama administration from granting a massive administrative amnesty to illegal immigrants. The Obama administration should not pick and choose which laws it will enforce. Congress must put a halt to this administrative amnesty," Smith added.

A copy of the bill can be found at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/HALT%20Act%20Bill%20Text.pdf

Background: Over the course of the last year, the Obama administration has sought to circumvent Congress and use executive branch authority to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. Last month, administration officials caved to pressure from their liberal base and announced changes to the Secure Communities program. This program keeps our neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. The changes made by the administration could open the door to allow millions of illegal and criminal immigrants avoid current immigration laws.

Specifically, the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued two memos to agency officials on how to exercise "prosecutorial discretion," such as granting deferred action, deciding whom to stop, question, arrest, or detain, and dismissing a removal proceeding. While this authority is justifiable when exercised responsibly, the Obama administration has made clear that it plans to use this authority recklessly.

This isn't the only time the administration has sought administrative amnesty. Last year, a draft memo written by top political officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suggested the agency take steps to legalize countless illegal immigrants by granting deferred action or parole. Both deferred action and parole are reasonable on a case-by-case basis but are not intended to be used to grant massive administrative amnesty.

The HALT Act will prevent the Obama administration from
* Granting parole, except in narrow circumstances;
* Issuing deferred action, except in narrow circumstances;
* Issuing extended voluntary departure to removable aliens;
* Granting work authorization to aliens on a discretionary basis;
* Granting temporary protected status to any new groups of aliens;
* Waiving the three and ten year bars to admittance for aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S.; and
* Granting cancellation of removal to illegal immigrants.

The HALT Act will restore these powers in January 2013 to the next president elected by the American people.

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