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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. POLIS. My amendment would bring down funding for ICE to fiscal year 2008 levels. I know that this is a time when it's critical to balance our budget and to cut government spending, and here's an example of a line item where we simply can't afford to continue to reward failure. This bill is a great place to start in making sure that we have a sound policy for our country. We can't afford to continue wasting billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money to fund an Agency that, frankly, isn't producing results.

This bill proposed to appropriate billions of dollars to ICE to enforce our broken immigration laws. That means they spend this money to continue deporting hardworking immigrants, separating families, and kicking out students who have lived in this country their entire lives, all at taxpayer expense.

How much does this cost the American taxpayer? ICE itself has said that each deportation costs $12,500. Outside estimates actually put the number higher--around $23,000. In fact, it costs an average of $112 a night just to detain illegal immigrants. That's right. This country is putting illegal immigrants up, effectively, at hotels. We might as well put them up at a bargain hotel. Let's find a $49 room rather than spending $112 a night to feed and house illegal immigrants every night. My amendment will not end that practice, but it will take it back to 2008 levels.

We simply can't deport our way out of our current immigration problems. One study estimates it would cost $285 billion to deport all the illegal immigrants in the country, not to mention the devastating impact on the economy that that would have.

We need to replace our broken immigration system with one that works. Simply throwing good money after bad at a failed Agency like ICE, which has not stopped illegal immigration, is simply a recipe for continued disaster.

In addition, ICE is responsible for shutting down Web sites. Frequently, they have taken down legitimate Web sites without any due process of the law. The story of the music blog dajazz1 should be a warning to all of us that we need to take a closer look at these efforts. This site was seized by ICE for over a year without any explanation or due process. When the government finally return controlled of the site to its owners, they couldn't even explain why they took control of the Internet site. Imagine if the government had seized a printing press or magazine or a newspaper. We would be outraged on the left and on the right. Why is this any different? Seizing a Web site without any due process of the law is contrary to the principles enshrined in our Constitution, is un-American, and violates our freedom of speech.

Now make no mistake: even if my amendment passes, the bill would still appropriate far too much for a failed agency. It still would appropriate billions of dollars. And I would still oppose that appropriation. But at least let's return that appropriation to 2008 levels to stop putting illegal immigrants up at hotels, stop closing down Web sites that are free press, stop funding enormous amounts of taxpayer money not solving our immigration problem.

It's more important than ever that we balance our budget and end the deficit. We can start that by reducing wasteful government spending instead of increasing wasteful government spending. ICE has failed to stop illegal immigration. Let's not reward failure. ICE has shut down Web sites without any due process. Let's not reward failure.

Obviously, there are Members on both sides of the aisle, myself included, that want to address our broken immigration system, and we should have a country that has zero illegal immigrants--not 10 million, not 12 million, not 15 million. Frankly, the less ICE does, the more likely we can eliminate illegal immigration in this country, because all they do is contribute to it. And my bill will at least reduce their funding to 2008 levels. I think it's a commonsense amendment. Anybody who opposes this amendment is effectively rewarding the continued failure of one of the most poorly performing government Agencies.

I urge my colleagues to vote for my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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