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During debate on the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill, the House voted cut off funds for implementing Administration policies that shield most illegal aliens from the threat of deportation. The 224-201 vote on an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) could be a harbinger of the difficulties amnesty proponents face in the coming debate over immigration reform.

Rep. King’s amendment would prevent DHS from implementing a series of memos that set deportation priorities. By assigning certain categories of illegal aliens a low deportation priority, the memos effectively tell ICE agents to ignore their illegal status. One such category is the illegal aliens who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Should the measure become law, it would clear the way for these illegal aliens to be deported again.

The House admonished other Administration immigration policies, too. In order to comply with sequestration-imposed cost reductions, DHS claimed it had to release thousands of criminal aliens from detention center. Representatives unanimously adopted a measure sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) that would prevent DHS from releasing further criminal aliens.

The House voted 245-180 in support of an amendment sponsored by Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) that underwrites the continued operation of the 287(g) federal-state partnership, which enables local police to perform certain duties of ICE agents. The Obama Administration had targeted that program for termination.

A 1996 law provides that "[s]tates and localities may not adopt policies, formally or informally, that prohibit employees from communicating with DHS regarding the immigration status of individuals.” But dozens of cities around the country have adopted “sanctuary” policies that limit communications and thereby shield illegal aliens from detection. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), in an attempt to shut these illegal-alien havens, won support for an amendment that would cut off grant funding to cities that maintain sanctuary policies.

Another 1996 law mandated implementation of a full entry-exit system at all ports of entry. But no Administration has ever implemented the exit portion, which is critical for tracking visa overstayers. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) succeeded in garnering support for an amendment that prohibits the Secretary of DHS from using funds for “official reception expenses” until the entry-exit system is fully established.

The House also defeated several attempts to undermine immigration enforcement. One such amendment sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) would have eliminated a requirement for ICE to maintain 34,000 illegal-alien detention beds. If the requirement is jettisoned, the Administration will be empowered to cut bed numbers and thereby reduce the capacity for detaining illegal aliens who might otherwise flee.

Read here for more information on Rep. King’s pro-deportation amendment.

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