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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Chairman, I rise to ensure that appropriate funds are provided for the 287(g) program in this bill. The Federal Government must have well-equipped partners to address interior enforcement concerns.

However, the bill does not state specifically all funds for the 287(g) program, which would allow for robust law enforcement capacity.

I want to ensure the record reflects that the administration's request is $68,321,000 and that this bill supports the President's request.

Citizens nationwide are rightfully demanding secure U.S. borders and enforcement of our immigration laws. The desire, Mr. Chairman, in many places across the country to strengthen interior enforcement points to an overwhelming perception throughout the Nation that the Federal Government is not as effectively as possible addressing serious security concerns such as the pernicious criminal activity related to illegal immigration in the border region.

We need to better empower States and local law enforcement, and the 287(g) is a very important program.

In 1996, Congress enacted section 287(g) as an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide necessary immigration enforcement assistance to State and local law enforcement entities. It authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to enter into agreements with State and local law enforcement, equipping them through thorough training to perform important immigration enforcement functions.

Local law enforcement agencies are often closest to the problem. To date, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has trained more than 1,240 State and local officers nationwide pursuant to section 287(g) programs. Since 2006, the 287(g) program, according to ICE, has resulted in the identification of more than 200,300 ``potentially removable aliens--mostly at local jails.'' Sixty-nine separate local law enforcement agencies participate in the program in 24 States, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia; and ICE, it appears, has worked very diligently since 2009 to fix concerns with the program by strengthening public safety and improving consistency.

In my home State of Nebraska, there is interest at the local level. The City of Fremont, in particular, has voiced enthusiasm for this program and could directly be impacted by an increase of funds available to help secure their community.

Ensuring full funding for the 287(g) programs preserves a high spirit of federalism in empowering States to work together with the Federal Government on a critical homeland security matter.

Mr. Chairman, America has been, for a long, long time, a just and generous Nation in regards to immigration policy, opening her arms to persons, particularly those facing social, economic or even political persecution, who wish to come here and make a new contribution in a new community to the well-being of their own lives. This should remain the hallmark and spirit of sound immigration policy, but uncontrolled borders are a serious threat to the United States' national security; and with lax interior enforcement authority, we risk our ability to remain a just and generous Nation in regards to immigration policy. So section 287(g) plays a critical role in this process and should be funded at the administration's request.

Mr. ADERHOLT. Reclaiming my time, the gentleman from Nebraska raises some excellent points, and I strongly support robust enforcement of our Nation's immigration laws. That includes partnership with the States and local law enforcement through the 287(g) program.

As the gentleman from Nebraska noted, 287(g) is an important tool among many and gives ICE a force multiplier for immigration enforcement.

I thank the gentleman from Nebraska for his attention to this important program, and I will continue to work with him as we move this bill forward.


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