The House Appropriations Committee has approved an effort by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) to shield states when they act to fill the void left by the federal government on immigration reform.
Kingston's amendment would withhold funding from the Department of Justice to sue states which enacted laws to protect their citizens from illegal immigration. Currently the federal government has pursued such litigation against eight states including Georgia.
"The federal government's failure to address illegal immigration and selective enforcement of existing laws has given states no choice but to take matters into their own hands," said Kingston. "My amendment ensures states do not have to live in fear of retribution from the same federal government which has let them down. When legislatures act to keep their citizens safe, protect their jobs, and defend their economies, they should not have to then spend taxpayer resource protecting themselves from the federal government."
Kingston's effort is based on the understanding that federal and state cooperation is critical to effective immigration enforcement. The role of states in enforcing immigration laws was affirmed last year when the Supreme Court upheld immigration status verification by Arizona law enforcement officials.
"The ruling clearly rejects the notion that only the federal government can enforce the law,"Kingston said. "When the feds fail to do their part, state rightly act in the best interest of their citizens."
Kingston vowed to continue his fight for immigration reform in Congress but said he could not support the bill passed by the Senate.
"Any immigration reform must start with enforcing the laws we already have on the books and securing our border," said Kingston. "The Senate's bill rewards those who have broken our laws with citizenship and is unacceptable. It's sheer size lends itself to the kind of bad surprises and mistakes we have seen from Obamacare or Dodd-Frank. Instead we should pass smaller pieces of targeted legislation through regular order to address immigration reform step-by-step."