By Pete Kasperowicz
The House voted Thursday evening to prevent the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency from spending any money on its newly created "public advocate" position, which critics say is a formal position in the department aimed at helping people in illegal immigration proceedings.
Members voice-voted on an amendment from Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) to the 2013 DHS spending bill that would prevent any funding for the position.
ICE announced in February that it had created the public advocate position, which was quickly criticized as an unnecessary move that could aid illegal immigrants. ICE said the person in the position "will serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, non-governmental organizations and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise."
"Scarce taxpayer dollars should not be spent on lobbying for illegal aliens, but that's exactly what the Obama administration wants to do," Black said Thursday. "My amendment prohibits any funding for the illegal alien 'Public Advocate' position. The administration should be using this money instead for its intended purpose: to combat illegal immigration."
The House was expected to continue amendment work on the bill, H.R. 5855, late Thursday night. Members disposed of other amendments, including four that were accepted by voice vote, from:
* Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), to prohibit the use of funds in contravention of the Fifth and 14th amendments of the Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sec. 809 (c)(1) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Sec. 210401 (a) of the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
* Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), to block a proposed rule by the Department of Homeland Security called "Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers of Inadmissibility for Certain Immediate Relatives."
* Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), to prohibit funds from being used to enforce Sec. 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
* Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico), to prohibit funds for Customs and Border Security Salaries and Expenses for collection of duties and taxes authorized to be levied, collected and paid in Puerto Rico.
Another amendment, from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), had a point of order raised against it. That language would have prohibited funds from being used to issue a visa to a citizen, subject, national or resident of Brazil until the president of the United States certifies to Congress that Brazil has amended its laws to remove the prohibition on extradition of nationals of Brazil.