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Illegal Immigration

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ADERHOLT. Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the gentleman from Alabama, my colleague in the Fifth Congressional District, for organizing this tonight. We are all here tonight to discuss what America is facing, and that is a self-imposed security crisis.

The main concern is that it appears that the administration is ignoring its responsibility to enforce our Nation's immigration laws. For our security, economic well-being, and safety, immigration enforcement does matter.

Since the beginning of the current administration, we have seen decisions and policies that have denigrated immigration enforcement. It started with the identification of ``priorities'' where the Department of Homeland Security announced it would focus largely on removing only those aliens convicted of serious crimes.

More recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as it is referred to, issued guidance directing broad use of prosecutorial discretion. Let me explain how that works. ICE agents locate a fugitive who has been ordered to be removed. The fugitive is arrested in his apartment where four other people are present. ICE agents ascertain that all these individuals are illegal aliens, though they do not have an actual criminal conviction. Pursuant to ICE priorities, these individuals would not be arrested.

This process on whether to prosecute or not was intended to be exercised on a case-by-case basis, not by front-line officers directed to ignore the law, but by supervisors and attorneys looking at the law and the facts of a particular case and considering humanitarian concerns or national security interests. Now, front-line agents and officers in the middle of an encounter are being asked to essentially conduct an on-the-spot investigation.

Under the administration's policy, front-line officers and agents don't have much of a choice but to ignore the law and leave the illegal alien behind, unless the alien is a fugitive or has an actual criminal conviction.

Not only do we have memos directing front-line officers to ignore illegal aliens under the current administration, but we have committees second-guessing decisions officers, attorneys, and judges make. The Department of Homeland Security set up a task force of outsiders to tell the Secretary whether this policy should include ignoring illegal aliens encountered at traffic stops and those who would have drunk driving violations. The Department is also establishing a committee to review all 400,000 immigration proceedings, including for aliens with final removal orders, to decide whether these illegal aliens should actually be removed.

This is the problem, and it leads to cases like the one that my colleague from Alabama just talked about, Tad Mattle. The new policy, in effect, refuses to enforce immigration law until, and let me stress that, until a serious, perhaps violent crime, has been committed. If immigration law had been enforced, Tad's life may have been spared.

Today, more than ever, our Nation's fiscal resources are constrained. Despite that fact, this body has made immigration enforcement and homeland security a priority.

Congress, under both Republican and Democrat leadership, has consistently provided ICE with funds above those funds they have requested, and that's to ensure strong enforcement and security. Funds the Department of Homeland Security received at the hand of this Chamber should not be used to blatantly ignore the law or for the implementation of flawed and reckless policies that provide backdoor amnesty.

These memos and committees may allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States in violation of existing law and regulation and compete with unemployed Americans and legal immigrants working for scarce jobs.

While the Federal Government seems to find loopholes to keep illegal aliens who pose public safety threats in this country, States like my home State of Alabama are being prosecuted for attempting to take this problem into their own hands. Alabama and other States burdened with these issues shouldn't have to worry about Federal intervention. Alabama was the fifth State in this country to adopt laws addressing illegal immigration. The legislature of Alabama and the Governor have opted to act. Instead, the administration has filed a judicial action. The administration should take this as a wake-up call, a bold reminder of the Federal Government's duty to protect each and every American from being the victim of crimes that can so easily be prevented. The Federal Government should be working with States to ensure the safety of all Americans.

This is not a time for partisan politics. This is a time for a robust, coordinated effort to guarantee the security of our citizens and to protect our Nation's borders.

I thank the gentleman from Alabama for yielding.


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