Two weeks ago, Ranking Member Lofgren held a press conference to denounce the HALT Act. Last week, 75 Democrats sent a letter to President Obama to tell him that they would work to sustain a veto of this bill.
The HALT Act, if enacted, would prevent the Obama Administration from engaging in the mass legalization of illegal immigrants. Clearly the lines are drawn between those who support upholding the laws of the United States and those who believe they should be ignored.
Immigration advocacy groups have been working for years to convince Congress to pass mass amnesty legislation for illegal immigrants. Upon the failure of those efforts, they have been trying to convince the Administration to bypass Congress and administratively legalize millions of illegal immigrants.
These groups have apparently made headway. Last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued two memos that laid the groundwork for just such a mass legalization. We will hear from a witness today about the pressures that ICE officers are now under to refrain from enforcing the immigration laws.
In reaction, Chairman Smith and Senator Vitter introduced the HALT Act. And the amnesty advocacy groups have strongly condemned the bill.
Congress simply cannot allow the Administration to grant parole or deferred action except in narrow circumstances. Congress cannot allow the administration to grant extended voluntary departure or cancellation of removal, to grant work authorization except where authorized by law, to grant temporary protected status, or to waive the bars to admissibility for immigrants who have been illegally present.
How do we handle extraordinary humanitarian situations that are bound to occur in the interim? Congress can always act by passing private bills to help non-U.S. citizens in the U.S. or outside the U.S. when we deem it wise, just and prudent.
I look forward to today's hearing.