December 16, 2005
Bono Votes to Prevent Illegal Immigration and Bolster Border Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a move to prevent illegal immigration by bolstering border security efforts and interior immigration enforcement, Congresswoman Mary Bono (CA-45) voted today in favor of H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.
"The stark reality is that our current immigration laws are insufficient and lack the strict enforcement necessary to protect our borders. By increasing accountably in illegal immigration enforcement, this legislation takes an important step in a continuous and comprehensive legislative effort to restore the integrity of our Nation's borders," said Congresswoman Bono.
Highlights of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act:
* Mandates the Construction of Specific Security Fencing -- The bill provides for security fencing along the Southwest border, including lights and cameras, for the purposes of gaining operational control of the border. Fencing has been designated in sectors that have the highest number of immigrant deaths, instances of drug smuggling and illegal border crossings. The bill additionally includes a requirement for the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study on the use of physical barriers along the Northern border.
* Combats Hiring of Illegal Workers - The bill institutes an employment eligibility verification system in which employers will check the Social Security numbers and alien identification numbers (provided by employees) against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records in order to weed out fraudulent numbers and ensure that their employees are not working in the U.S. illegally.
* Increased Penalties for Alien Smuggling - Provisions in the bill would greatly increase criminal penalties for alien smuggling by establishing mandatory minimum sentences, among other things. These provisions were recommended by a panel of border-area U.S. Attorneys to make it easier to deport smugglers and illegal entrants.
* Crackdown on Alien Gang Members -- This provision would render alien street gang members inadmissible and deportable, and authorize the Attorney General to designate groups or associations as criminal street gangs if they meet certain criteria. Also requires the detention of alien street gang members and bars alien gang members from receiving humanitarian benefits.
* Increased Penalties for Aliens re-entering Illegally - Provisions would stiffen penalties for aliens who re-enter the United States after having been removed.
* Aggravated Felony Provisions - Provisions in the bill would make aggravated felons (crimes of violence) inadmissible and would bar refugees and asylees with aggravated felony convictions from receiving green cards.
* Cooperation between Border Sheriffs and Federal Law Enforcement - Provisions in the bill would authorize and reimburse local sheriffs in the 29 counties along the southern border to enforce the immigration laws and transfer illegal aliens to federal custody. It also specifically reimburses those sheriffs for costs associated with detaining illegal aliens whom they arrest until they are able to hand them over to federal authorities. This provision deems aliens in sheriffs' custody to be in federal custody once determined to be in an unlawful status.
* Increasing DHS Authority for Long-Term Detention - The U.S. Supreme Court has limited DHS ability to detain dangerous aliens with decisions that have forced hundreds of aliens (such as murderers) to be released into American communities. One alien released because of these Court decisions later shot a state trooper in the head. This change would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow for continued detention of aliens who pose a threat to Americans.
* Renewing DHS Authority to Use Reinstatement of Removal Process - In Morales-Izquierdo v. Ashcroft, the Ninth Circuit recently invalidated DHS reinstatement of removal regulations, which allows DHS to remove an alien previously deported by simply reinstating the alien's prior order of removal. The House Judiciary Committee has been told that this procedure was used in some 90,000 cases last year, and the Ninth Circuit's decision affects 40% of removals in the Ninth Circuit. This amendment to the INA would clarify DHS's authority to reinstate orders.
* Barring Terrorist Aliens from Naturalization - Bars aliens who are potential terrorists or security risks from becoming U.S. citizens.
* Deportation for DUI - Would make multiple DUI offenses a deportable offense for all aliens.