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H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GARCIA. Mr. Chair, I rise today to express my disappointment that the DHS Appropriations bill provides $68 million in funding for 287(g)--a redundant, controversial immigration enforcement program.

I will be offering an amendment later today to cut $10 million from this unnecessary program and use those funds to increase CBP staffing at our nation's airports.

I would like to express my frustration that the legislation we are considering today, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, provides $68 million for the 287(g)--a superfluous and controversial program that allows local police to act like federal agents.

It does not make any sense to waste $68 million on a program that will not help us fix our immigration system nor secure our country.

Because of this, today, I will be proposing an amendment that will cut $10 million from this program and use that money to increase the number of customs agents in our airports.

This would reduce long lines and unacceptable delays, promoting commerce and tourism and furthering our economic recovery.

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Mr. GARCIA. Mr. Chairman, my amendment seeks to increase by $10 million the funding for Customs and Border Protection staffing and to decrease by $10 million the funding for the controversial 287(g) immigration enforcement program.

At a time when our economy is just starting to pick up steam, this amendment is intended to promote trade, travel, tourism, and investment through our Nation's airports and ultimately support our economic recovery.

As the busiest airport in the United States for international flights and the Gateway to the Americas, Miami International Airport is a vital economic engine for south Florida and our country. Unfortunately, MIA has been among the worst hit with inadequate Customs and Border Patrol staffing levels. On the worst peak travel days, we have over 3 1/2 hours of waiting time, and sometimes up to 800 missed connections.

If we want to continue being the top destination for foreign investors, for immigrants, for tourists, for visitors, and for business people, we need to ensure we have adequate CBP staffing to handle our growing number of visitors.

While these personnel shortages are especially acute at MIA, these delays are prevalent at international hubs throughout the country, impeding the trade, travel, tourism, and investment that we need to fuel our economic recovery and create jobs.

This amendment seeks to reduce the funding of the section 287(g) program to enable the increase of funding for CBP staffing. This immigration enforcement program has been controversial and criticized for many years and has been made increasingly redundant by the development and expansion of other questionable programs, like Secure Communities.

While this appropriations bill provides $68 million in funding for 287(g), that amount exceeds the request from the Department of Homeland Security by $44 million, that is, a $44 million increase over the request.

Both the Major Cities Chiefs Associations and the International Association of Chiefs of Police have expressed strong concerns about section 287(g)'s program, which undermine's public safety and diverts limited law enforcement resources, and exacerbates fear and distrust in our communities. And if that wasn't enough, other immigration enforcement programs like Secure Communities have replaced the need for 287(g), and yet we are continuing to fund a practically defunct program. I believe these funds are better spent in promoting American commerce at our Nation's airports and invigorating our economy.

I urge my colleagues to support what I think is a very sensible and important amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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