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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer a commonsense amendment to H.R. 2217.

The 287(g) program has been an integral component of immigration enforcement efforts, yet the Obama administration has been systematically weakening the integrity of the program by slashing funding and discontinuing numerous agreements. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have tried to do the same throughout this open amendment process.

Mr. Chairman, I want to commend my friend, Homeland Security Appropriation Subcommittee Chairman Judge John Carter, for recognizing the importance of the program and ensuring that the underlying bill provides $43.5 million to restore it. My amendment simply adds an additional layer of protection for the program by stating that none of the funds made available under this act may be used in contravention of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The 287(g) program enables State and local law enforcement to enter into agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, to act in place of or in tandem with ICE agents by processing illegal aliens who are incarcerated for crimes for removal.

287(g) agreements have a proven track record, Mr. Chairman. Since 2006, over 309,000 potentially removable illegal aliens have been identified under this enforcement program. I emphasize ``potentially removable'' because the final decision remains with ICE. Additionally, with less than 6,000 ICE agents, 287(g) agreements serve as a critical force multiplier by allowing State and local enforcement to assist in enforcing Federal immigration laws.

In my district, the 11th Congressional District of Georgia, the Cobb County Sheriff's Department has successfully participated in a 287(g) program since 2007. I know that the Cobb Sheriff's Department wants to continue its participation in this program, and I am sure countless other law enforcement agencies do as well.

However, the Obama administration continues to weaken our immigration laws by reducing options available to enforce those laws. The administration has gone so far as discontinuing existing agreements, suspending pending agreements, and seeking to slash the 287(g) program by 25 percent. We cannot let this continue.

Mr. Chairman, the administration and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle tout Secure Communities as an alternative to 287(g). While Secure Communities is an important part of immigration enforcement, it focuses primarily on removing aliens that the administration deems a priority, namely, criminal aliens. While removal of these types of aliens is important, the administration must stop picking and choosing aspects of existing immigration law it chooses to enforce.

State and local enforcement officers go through extensive training to participate in 287(g) agreements. This training allows them to participate in enforcing immigration law while carrying out their other duties.

Rather than turning a blind eye to someone here illegally, officers are able to identify and take action when they encounter an illegal alien who has been incarcerated for committing a crime. They're not patrolling the streets. The Obama administration's continued attack on the 287(g) program ignores the program's success and the officers' training--assuming that they can't multitask--and instead forces those who are charged with upholding the law to just simply ignore it.

Mr. Chairman, it is time we start enforcing our immigration laws. It is time we uphold the rule of law. For these reasons, I urge all of my colleagues, please support my amendment to this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman from Texas yielding me time. I would just say to my colleague from North Carolina that--as I pointed out in describing this amendment--the 287(g) program superseded some of these State laws that were enacted west of the Mississippi, not east of the Mississippi, and obviously there were some problems. But in this situation that I'm describing--and the reason the chairman of the subcommittee wants so strongly to fund this program--is communities like Cobb County, Georgia, in the heart of the 11th Congressional District, my district. Sheriff Neil Warren has been utilizing this program since 2007, Mr. Chairman, and as I pointed out, it is a force multiplier. The deputy sheriffs in Cobb County are not patrolling the streets profiling, looking for certain individuals to ask them for their papers or anything of that sort.

This program is just simply when someone is incarcerated for committing a crime in our community. And it doesn't matter their ethnicity. Anybody in that jail with the training of these officers under the 287(g) Federal program, federally trained, they have the ability, the knowledge, the wherewithal, to find out, to check the databases, the Homeland Security information, Social Security, to find out whether or not these individuals are in this country legally.

Now, if they're not in the country legally, we make note of that--they make note of that--under the 287(g) program. They serve their time for the crime they committed in our community, whether that's running a red light or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a minor fender-bender, whatever it is, they serve their time.

ICE is then simply given this information, and they can make a decision whatever they want to do in regard to whether they deport these illegal immigrants. The Secure Communities program, of course, gives them the ability to decide not to deport them. Well, the local community, the local sheriff's department, is out of it at that point. So nothing can be better than a program like 287(g). And it's well worth the dollars spent, and as I point out, a force multiplier.

I commend the chairman of the subcommittee, and I say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let's get the job done and support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. Madam Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Flores amendment to H.R. 2217 that will prevent funds in this legislation from being used to carry out section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Section 526 prohibits all Federal agencies from contracting for alternative fuels that emit higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum sources.

This means that, if a Federal agency, particularly the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, has the ability of utilizing an alternative fuel that even has one scintilla more of carbon emissions than conventional fuels, it cannot be used. Some of you may not know what a ``scintilla'' is, but the professor from Duke does. It's a very, very, very small amount. As a result, section 526 severely limits innovation from Homeland Security at Customs and Border Patrol to improve clean carbon capture technologies for alternative fuels, thereby increasing our dependence on foreign oil, and will only further increase fuel costs.

The amendment intends to remove the handcuffs placed on the agencies under this bill by section 526. This means that Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, particularly the Air Force, will still be able to purchase Canadian fuels with just traces--scintillas--of oil sands that may create more of a carbon footprint than completely conventional fuel.

Madam Chairman, I support a full repeal of section 526 because the cost of refined product for DOD has increased by over 500 percent in the last 10 years when volume has only increased by 30 percent. The Flores amendment takes a very important step in achieving this goal by prohibiting funding to carry out section 526 for the upcoming fiscal year at Homeland Security.

With that in mind, I appreciate the opportunity to work with my colleague from Texas (Mr. Flores) on this important issue. I urge this body to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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