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Public Statements

Sessions Introduces House SAFE Act As Amendment To Gang Of Eight Immigration Bill

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed an amendment to S. 744 based on the SAFE Act which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Gowdy to strengthen the dismantled interior enforcement of our immigration laws. It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday:

Sen. Sessions:

"Much of the focus to date on the security flaws in the Gang of Eight plan have centered around the fact that it provides immediate amnesty without border security.

Less discussed, however, is how the Gang of Eight plan decimates future immigration enforcement inside our borders. As the President of the USCIS union put it: "even if you completely rewrote [the] proposal to resolve the many border security concerns and changed the ordering to delay legalization, the legislation would still fail--and would still endanger the public--because of the fatally flawed interior enforcement components.'

The Gang of Eight plan not only would effectively create an immediate amnesty for those here illegally today but a permanent de facto amnesty for future illegal aliens who arrive tomorrow. As President of the National ICE Council Chris Crane has reported, "[ICE] officers are increasingly prohibited by the administration from arresting and removing immigration violators--including convicted criminals and aliens incarcerated in jails… Yet, instead of cracking down on the administration's abuse of power, S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement--making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous.'

The SAFE Act moves in the opposite direction: it empowers our immigration officers with the tools and resources they need to ensure future lawfulness in our immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee worked with the law enforcement community to produce this legislation--the Gang of Eight worked with the special interests to craft provisions to further handcuff law enforcement from doing their jobs. I applaud Congressman Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte for their efforts.

This is not only an immigration issue, but a public safety issue. Every day, innocent civilians are the victims of preventable crimes perpetrated by illegal aliens who have benefited from sanctuary cities and the dismantling of ICE enforcement powers.

We need an immigration system that actually works. The SAFE Act does that. We must end the lawlessness and not create another wave of illegal immigration. The Gang of Eight's effort, sadly, will hamstring interior enforcement. In many ways, this will test whether the Gang of Eight's enforcement rhetoric is just that: failure to support the SAFE Act will help ensure continued illegality and further indicate that they are not committed to the creation of a lawful immigration system. The Safe Act puts into effect the unrealized public commitments from the Gang of Eight and will be a big step towards a lawful system of immigration the American people deserve."

ICE Officer and ICE Council President Chris Crane:

"On behalf of the men and women at ICE I want to thank Senator Sessions for offering this amendment. Interior enforcement is absolutely critical to our nation's security and the rule of law. ICE officers have been blocked by this administration and its political appointees from enforcing the nation's immigration laws. ICE officers have also been forced to release thousands of dangerous criminal aliens back into communities. Yet, rather than crack down on these abuses, the Gang of Eight's bill handcuffs law enforcement officials and drastically reduces the ability of ICE agents to remove future illegal immigrants and visa overstays. The Gang of Eight legislation also provides legal status to gang members, child abusers and many other repeat criminal offenders.

By contrast, the SAFE Act provides crucial resources for our beleaguered ICE officers and contains many needed reforms that will greatly improve public safety and help establish a lawful immigration system. I urge all Senators to support Sessions' amendment to the Gang of Eight bill and in particular call on Senator Rubio to support this amendment and the efforts of Congressman Gowdy and Chairman Goodlatte."

BACKGROUND:

By contrast, here are some of the provisions in the Gang of Eight bill that collectively hamstring interior enforcement:

· Amnesty for gang members, sex offenders and repeat convicted criminals.
· The bill provides that "nothing in this paragraph may be construed to require the Secretary to commence removal proceedings against an alien", and thus enables dangerous persons who are ineligible for legalization to remain in the US, unless the DHS Secretary decides to initiate removal.
· Prohibits removal of any person claiming eligibility for legalization under S. 744 without requirement to provide proof of eligibility or application. Nor can ICE remove any individual until final administrative determination is made.
· Grants unreviewable DHS discretion to waive removals, deportations and findings of ineligibility for illegal immigrants, and findings of inadmissibility for legal immigrants, based on the flimsy standards of "hardship" "humanitarian" concerns, the "public interest" or desire to promote "family unity." This alone would effectively halt interior enforcement in America.
· Diminishes ICE's ability to detain aliens, and shifts the burden to ICE to justify continued detention of removable aliens, while also requiring custody hearings every 90 days even in the absence of any unchanged circumstances.
· Immigration judges have virtually unchecked discretion to halt removals, transferring DHS' authority to enforce immigration law to the immigration court.
· Unreviewable discretion for the Attorney General to waive inadmissibility for immigrants seeking entry who have previously committed application fraud "if the AG or Secretary determine that application would result in a hardship for the alien or the alien's immediate family member who is a US citizen."
· Permits final removal orders to be undone, causing endless re-litigating.
· DHS Secretary can waive accreditation standards for schools that may be fraudulently used by student visa holders.
· Grant immigrants denied legalization the ability to file suit and thus endlessly delay any hope of enforcement action.
· Codifies prosecutorial discretion and leaves unlawful deferred action intact for future illegal immigrants.
· Leave sanctuary cities intact and fails to restore 287(g) partnerships.


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