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DeMint Cosponsors Amendment to Bar Felons, Members of Terrorist Organizations, Gang Members and Sex Offenders from Legal Immigration Status and Benefi

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

DeMint Cosponsors Amendment to Bar Felons, Members of Terrorist Organizations, Gang Members and Sex Offenders from Legal Immigration Status and Benefits

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced that he has joined U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee, in sponsoring an amendment to the immigration bill that will close a loophole to deny legal status and immigration benefits to members of terrorist-related organizations, known gang members, sex offenders, alien smugglers who use firearms and felony drunk drivers.

"It's outrageous that this bill was drafted to allow suspected terrorists, gang members and sex offenders to gain legal status," said Senator DeMint. "Just one week ago we were told this was a good bill that should be quickly passed by Congress, but the more we learn about it the worse it looks. Americans expect Congress to make national security our top priority, but we can't do that by allowing criminals and suspected terrorists to remain here legally."

"The question I put to my colleagues is this: Should Congress permanently bar from the U.S. and from receiving any immigration benefit: suspected terrorists, gang members, sex offenders, felony drunk drivers, and other individuals who are a danger to society?," said Senator Cornyn. "I hope that every Senator would answer this question with a positive response."

The amendment by Senators Cornyn and DeMint also closes the loophole in the pending bill that allows legalization of those illegal immigrants who have violated court ordered deportations, or absconders.

"This bill not only rewards those who entered our country illegally, it grants amnesty to those who have defied court orders for deportation," said Senator DeMint. "Our willingness to look the other way has undermined the rule of law for the past twenty years, and this bill repeats that mistake."

"Unlike the first half of my amendment, this is not a technical correction. In other words, the decision to legalize this population of illegal immigrants was not an oversight by those who drafted this ‘compromise' legislation," Senator Cornyn said. "Their decision was that Congress should allow exceptions for individuals who are illegally in the United States in defiance of a court order, as well as those individuals who have previously been deported from the United States pursuant to a court order and have again reentered illegally. I could not agree with this decision and I believe every member of the Senate should make clear where they stand on this matter. Congress has determined that each of these crimes is a felony. The laws are on the books, and we must make sure they are enforced."

Below are examples of why the amendment by Senators Cornyn and DeMint is needed:

• Current law prohibits U.S. citizens convicted of sex crimes against minors from bringing a relative into this country. But, the bill does not specifically prohibit illegal immigrants - who could be removed from the country because they are sex offenders and failed to register as such - from entering the U.S. or getting legal status such as lawful permanent resident status.

• The bill retains a "loophole" in current law that would allow an alien who has been repeatedly convicted of driving while intoxicated to remain in the U.S. and get legal status such as "Z" visa status or a green card.

• The bill retains a "loophole" in current law that allows an alien who has committed terrorist acts or belongs to a terrorist organization and has not yet been removed from the U.S. to get legal status. Here is a real-world example of this loophole:

o Last year, Mohammed El Shorbagi pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hamas. His actions, however, would not specifically bar him from becoming a U.S. citizen or getting other immigration benefits — because it is not one of the grounds excluded from the definition of good moral character.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said during recent immigration negotiations that illegal immigrants who have defied the U.S. court system do not deserve to be rewarded with legalization.

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