Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) announced they will soon offer legislation to prohibit President Obama's administration, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other agencies, from participating in lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona over recently passed immigration laws.
Senator DeMint said, "It's absurd that the Obama Administration, which has failed to enforce the nation's immigration laws, is now stopping South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona from taking commonsense steps to protect citizens and uphold the law. President Obama has failed to build the southern border fence mandated by Congress. He's also failed to control the northern border, allowing the Border Patrol to stop conducting routine checks at bus stops and train stations for illegal immigrants who could be smugglers or terrorists. South Carolina has a duty uphold the law and to protect our citizens from criminals who are in the country illegally."
Senator Vitter said, "States like South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona have simply taken responsibility for a problem that the federal government has neglected for years, but Washington's only response is to oppose the state's enforcement efforts and take them to court. We're working to stop these politically driven lawsuits by cutting off the ability for the Obama administration to use taxpayers' money to pay for them."
Senator Sessions said, "The Department of Justice-- the chief law enforcement agency in this country--has failed in its responsibility to enforce federal immigration laws. The Justice Department needs to stop going after States that are taking steps in harmony with federal laws to see that our immigration laws actually are enforced and to help end the lawlessness. Thefederal government should focus on the jurisdictions that are actively undermining federal immigration law enforcement, like Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties in California, and Washington, D.C. I am grateful to Senator DeMint and Senator Vitter for their leadership in this important issue."
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the number of illegal immigrants inSouth Carolina prisons has jumped more than 400 percent from 925 in 2003 to3,750 in 2009. Over the same time period, Alabama's incarcerations of illegal immigrants has risen over 300 percent and Arizona's rose over 50 percent.
The same March 2011 GAO report found that: "criminal aliens had an average of 7 arrests, 65 percent were arrested at least once for an immigration offense, and about 50 percent were arrested at least once for a drug offense. Immigration, drugs, and traffic violations accounted for about 50 percent of arrest offenses. About 90 percent of the criminal aliens sentenced in federal court in fiscal year 2009 (the most recently available data) were convicted of immigration and drug-related offenses. About 40 percent of individuals convicted as a result of DOJ terrorism-related investigations were aliens."
The Associated Press reported on October 28, 2011 that: "U.S. Border Patrol has quietly stopped its controversial practice of routinely searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs along the northern border and in the nation's interior,preventing agents from using what had long been an effective tool for tracking down people here illegally agents said it was an effective way to catch unlawful immigrants, including smugglers and possible terrorists, who had evaded detection at the border, as well as people who had overstayed their visas. Often, those who evade initial detection head quickly for the nearest public transportation in hopes of reaching other parts of the country."
Five years ago, legislation was passed to build a 700-mile double-layer border fence along the southwest border. This is a promise that has not been kept. According to staff at the Department of Homeland Security, as of May 2011 just 5 percent of the double-layer fencing is complete, only 36.3 miles.
Senators DeMint and Vitter offered similar legislation in 2010 after the DOJ announced a lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law. That legislation received a vote on July 21, 2010 and garnered the support of 5 Democrat senators including current U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), and John Tester (D-Montana).