Roy Beck's picture

Published:  

  by  Roy Beck

I wish I could tell you precisely what Rep. Price (D-N.C.) and his U.S. House Appropriations Committee did to local immigration enforcement last week. Price and his staff have been so clever in their writing of the DHS spending bill that both NumbersUSA analysts and federal agencies are still attempting to figure out precisely what the House Appropriations Committee last week did. A week later, still nothing definitive.

A Lot of Effort to Hide True Intent

We continue to believe that Rep. Price's staff intentionally made the spending bill confusing in order to make it look like the House leadership is supporting MORE funding on interior enforcment while actually gutting a couple of the most effective forms of enforcement.

Staff of Rep Price (chairman of House Appropriations) contacted us last week and protested our driving so many phone calls and faxes into their offices complaining that he had gutted local enforcement.

In the back and forth, Price's staff was unable to prove that anything we have said or written has been inaccurate. But there remains some ambiguity. Price's staff told us to check with ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) to see how we have been wrong in what we have been telling you.

But when we contacted ICE, we found that ICE has a lot of the same concerns we do while also not able to fathom what the spending bill really would do.

The outcome of this is extremely important because it will largely determine if there will be federal money to continue two of the big bright spots in clamping down on illegal immigration:

(1) More and more states, counties and cities are training under the 287(g) program that allows them to enforce immigration laws, creating an exodus of illegal aliens from those entities.

(2) In the process of rounding up "fugitive criminal" illegal aliens, ICE encounters an even larger number of other illegal aliens who are living with them, sheltering them, working with them. ICE also arrests and deports those non-fugitive illegal aliens. This is also creating pressures on the general illegal population to move back home.

We continue to believe that Rep. Price and the majority of members of the Appropriations Committee have passed a bill to largely undercut those two efforts.

First, Price and the majority voted against an amendment that would have stated clearly that funding would continue for the 287(g) program.

Second, Price's statements to the media and in recent speeches reveal him to be fundamentally against efforts to make illegal aliens go home.

Some Recent Revealing Statement From Rep. Price

“Today I will suggest five principal homeland security priorities on which I would advise the next administration to focus.  The first is comprehensive immigration reform.  This might, at first glance, seem an odd choice as a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security, which – after all – was formed in response to the terrorist threat.  But the historic missions of the departmental components did not go away when the Department was formed, and subsuming them under the rubric of combating terrorism is apt to confuse as much as it clarifies.  Homeland Security encompasses critical areas of national policy that would demand attention even if 9/11 had not occurred.  Immigration, I believe, leads that list.
“That is not to say that immigration policy is unrelated to terrorism; control of our borders and knowing who has entered our country – legally or illegally – are directly related to our defense against terrorist threats.  Moreover, the intense focus on the broader illegal immigration problem – consisting primarily of an effort to intercept, detain, and deport individuals who illegally cross our borders in search of work and a better life – is distracting the Department’s attention and diverting the Department’s resources away from the truly dangerous threats and challenges we face.
“I want to be clear on that point.  The illegal presence of foreign nationals in the United States is a problem, and calls into question our commitment to the integrity of our immigration laws.  But we need to put that problem into perspective on two counts:  First, the integrity of our immigration laws is compromised primarily by the fact that those laws are grossly unrealistic in relation to our labor market demands.  And second, there can be no credible argument that deporting illegal workers should take precedence over efforts to combat smuggling, prevent terrorism, and deport criminal aliens.
“As comprehensive reform has floundered, our Subcommittee has used the power of the purse to take on the Administration’s skewed priorities in immigration enforcement.  In 2007, the number of individuals ICE deported because they crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas was 91 percent higher than in 2003, while the number of criminal aliens identified for deportation by the agency rose by only 16 percent.  In other words, while we have been using scarce resources to detain and deport laborers at meatpacking plants, we have allowed tens of thousands of dangerous criminal aliens to be released back into our communities after serving their sentences, with no awareness on our part of their immigration status.
“At our Committee’s direction, ICE has now developed a plan for identifying all those criminal aliens now serving time in our Federal, state, and local prisons and jails, and for deporting them upon the completion of their sentences.  This plan will require dogged dedication and significant additional resources to fully implement.  We have provided such resources in the FY 2009 bill.  No matter what one’s opinion about the broader illegal immigration problem and how to address it, we should all be able to agree that ICE’s highest priority should be to identify and deport unlawfully present aliens who have already shown themselves to be a danger to our communities and have been convicted of serious crimes.
“Our Subcommittee has also taken on the challenge of border security – through what will be a one third increase in the number of Border Patrol officers from the beginning of FY 2008 to the end of FY 2009; by compelling attention to the vast Northern border (which is more significant as a potential entry point for terrorists than the Southern border); and by requiring some accountability as DHS spends hundreds of millions of dollars to build fencing along the Southwest border.  We are insisting that cost-benefit estimates be provided and that alternative means of border protection be seriously compared before funds are spent on expensive fence construction.
“The illegal immigration problem cannot be solved by border security and law enforcement actions alone – I have yet to meet an experienced Border Patrol agent who believes that it can.  We are fooling ourselves if we believe that fences and worksite raids will do the trick.  Our illegal immigration is more about demand than about supply, so as long as our immigration policies are not responsive to the realities of our labor market, illegal immigration will drain our resources and distract attention from the apprehension of criminal and terrorist aliens crossing our borders and living among us.
“The current Administration made some effort last year to promote comprehensive immigration reform, but it now seems to have turned 180 degrees toward an enforcement-only approach.  This might be interpreted as an attempt to appeal to the most hard-line anti-immigrant segment of the population, but some have painted it as an effort to drive home the need for immigration reform by inflicting pain on businesses and communities who depend on these workers.  If it really is some sort of perverse “tough medicine” policy, I find it doubly hard to understand, given the negative impacts on hardworking immigrants and their children, and because it has tradeoffs with other activities that could be helping to make our country safer.
“Whatever the rationale, the next Administration must make immigration reform a higher priority and pursue it more effectively.  Such reform will strengthen our economy, reaffirm the rule of law, and enhance homeland security, allowing DHS to focus more effectively on that small percentage of illegal immigrants that has the capacity and the intent to commit crimes and do us harm.

“Today I will suggest five principal homeland security priorities on which I would advise the next administration to focus.  The first is comprehensive immigration reform.  This might, at first glance, seem an odd choice as a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security, which – after all – was formed in response to the terrorist threat.  But the historic missions of the departmental components did not go away when the Department was formed, and subsuming them under the rubric of combating terrorism is apt to confuse as much as it clarifies.  Homeland Security encompasses critical areas of national policy that would demand attention even if 9/11 had not occurred.  Immigration, I believe, leads that list.
“That is not to say that immigration policy is unrelated to terrorism; control of our borders and knowing who has entered our country – legally or illegally – are directly related to our defense against terrorist threats.  Moreover, the intense focus on the broader illegal immigration problem – consisting primarily of an effort to intercept, detain, and deport individuals who illegally cross our borders in search of work and a better life – is distracting the Department’s attention and diverting the Department’s resources away from the truly dangerous threats and challenges we face.
“I want to be clear on that point.  The illegal presence of foreign nationals in the United States is a problem, and calls into question our commitment to the integrity of our immigration laws.  But we need to put that problem into perspective on two counts:  First, the integrity of our immigration laws is compromised primarily by the fact that those laws are grossly unrealistic in relation to our labor market demands.  And second, there can be no credible argument that deporting illegal workers should take precedence over efforts to combat smuggling, prevent terrorism, and deport criminal aliens.
“As comprehensive reform has floundered, our Subcommittee has used the power of the purse to take on the Administration’s skewed priorities in immigration enforcement.  In 2007, the number of individuals ICE deported because they crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas was 91 percent higher than in 2003, while the number of criminal aliens identified for deportation by the agency rose by only 16 percent.  In other words, while we have been using scarce resources to detain and deport laborers at meatpacking plants, we have allowed tens of thousands of dangerous criminal aliens to be released back into our communities after serving their sentences, with no awareness on our part of their immigration status.
“At our Committee’s direction, ICE has now developed a plan for identifying all those criminal aliens now serving time in our Federal, state, and local prisons and jails, and for deporting them upon the completion of their sentences.  This plan will require dogged dedication and significant additional resources to fully implement.  We have provided such resources in the FY 2009 bill.  No matter what one’s opinion about the broader illegal immigration problem and how to address it, we should all be able to agree that ICE’s highest priority should be to identify and deport unlawfully present aliens who have already shown themselves to be a danger to our communities and have been convicted of serious crimes.
“Our Subcommittee has also taken on the challenge of border security – through what will be a one third increase in the number of Border Patrol officers from the beginning of FY 2008 to the end of FY 2009; by compelling attention to the vast Northern border (which is more significant as a potential entry point for terrorists than the Southern border); and by requiring some accountability as DHS spends hundreds of millions of dollars to build fencing along the Southwest border.  We are insisting that cost-benefit estimates be provided and that alternative means of border protection be seriously compared before funds are spent on expensive fence construction.
“The illegal immigration problem cannot be solved by border security and law enforcement actions alone – I have yet to meet an experienced Border Patrol agent who believes that it can.  We are fooling ourselves if we believe that fences and worksite raids will do the trick.  Our illegal immigration is more about demand than about supply, so as long as our immigration policies are not responsive to the realities of our labor market, illegal immigration will drain our resources and distract attention from the apprehension of criminal and terrorist aliens crossing our borders and living among us.
“The current Administration made some effort last year to promote comprehensive immigration reform, but it now seems to have turned 180 degrees toward an enforcement-only approach.  This might be interpreted as an attempt to appeal to the most hard-line anti-immigrant segment of the population, but some have painted it as an effort to drive home the need for immigration reform by inflicting pain on businesses and communities who depend on these workers.  If it really is some sort of perverse “tough medicine” policy, I find it doubly hard to understand, given the negative impacts on hardworking immigrants and their children, and because it has tradeoffs with other activities that could be helping to make our country safer.
“Whatever the rationale, the next Administration must make immigration reform a higher priority and pursue it more effectively.  Such reform will strengthen our economy, reaffirm the rule of law, and enhance homeland security, allowing DHS to focus more effectively on that small percentage of illegal immigrants that has the capacity and the intent to commit crimes and do us harm.

Immigration Fix Tops Price's Priorities For Next President
Mon. Jun. 23, 2008
by Chris Strohm
Top homeland security priorities for a new president should include getting comprehensive immigration reform legislation through Congress, strengthening the nation's ability to cope with all disasters -- not just terrorist attacks -- and making smart investments in technology, a key House appropriator said today. Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price, D-N.C., identified a handful of areas he believes the new administration should prioritize during a speech at the Center for American Progress. Passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation topped his list, a feat that has divided lawmakers and proved too difficult for the Bush administration. Price said such legislation would relieve the Homeland Security Department of having to direct so much of its resources and funding to stop the flow of illegal immigrants coming across the nation's borders. In turn, the department would be able to put more resources toward tracking down and deporting criminal illegal immigrants in the United States. Price's subcommittee dedicated $800 million to identify and deport violent illegal immigrants in its version of the FY09 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which is scheduled to be marked up Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee.

Tags:  
Interior Enforcement
287(g)

Updated: Wed, Jul 5th 2017 @ 2:08pm EDT

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