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H.R. 2278 – Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (Updated 12/19/13)

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 13060654 (posted Dec. 19, 2013)"

TAKE ACTION: Send a Letter to the Editor to a local media outlet on the problems with the "SAFE Act"

On 06/18/13 the House Judiciary Committee successfully voted the bill out of committee on a party line 20-15 vote (Republicans in favors, Democrats opposed).

On 6/13/13 the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the H.R. 2278. (AILA Doc. No. 13060750.)

On 06/06/13 Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 2278 – the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (the SAFE Act)

Limited Summary of the 06/18/13 Markup of H.R. 2278

On 6/18/13 at 10:15am the House Judiciary Committee began markup of the bill. The markup got off to a rocky start when protesters disrupted the hearing by chanting: "Shame, Shame, Shame, Stop the pain," among others. Once the protesters had been escorted outside Reps. Goodlatte (R-VA) and Gowdy (R-SC), as chairs of the Committee and Subcommittee, gave their opening remarks reinforcing that the SAFE Act was the first step the House would be taking to addressing the broken immigrant system. Reps. Conyers (D-MI) and Lofgren (D-CA), as the ranking Democratic members of the Committee and Subcommittee respectively, expressed their outspoken opposition to the bill. Rep. Lofgren stated that while she would be offering amendments she did not see any way that this bill could be salvaged.

11:15am Rep. Goodlatte offered a Manager's Amendment that would prevent Judges from obfuscating the intent of the law.
Rep. Conyers: This managers Amendment would make the bill even worse. If a person knowingly overstays their visa for even one day, she is criminalized. If a person on a student visa misses classes because of a grave illness, she is criminalized. If a spouse of an H-1B worker volunteers as a substitute teacher at their child's school, he is criminalized.
Rep. Bachus (R-AL): I'll offer a At some point we will need to establish that you're here either legally or that you're not here. I think the Chairman is trying to establish that our laws are changed in the future after a path to legalization is passed for those 11 million living here unlawfully. For that reason I am proposing that no one currently here unlawfully-who would be put on a path to legalization-be subject to this criminalization. I am acting under the assumption that Congress will address this problem by 2015, that the country will demand it, and so we will have some sort of a solution by then. some of us have said that we don't want to this to apply to those already in our country, and that we will at some point legalize them. And the vast majority of Congress know that there are millions of people who are here who will be legalized. But if we do that we've also said that there will be enforcement in the future. I support comprehensive immigration reform.
Rep. Lofgren: I can't support the amendment, although I do appreciate it. We don't have a legalization plan, so we can't assume that will happen. Being alive, breathing the air, has never been a crime before, and I don't think we should make it a crime. I don't believe that we should criminalize people who are in technical violation of their visas. It is very easy to run afoul of your visa.
Rep. Goodlatte: I will support this amendment because it is offered to address all three areas of our immigration system.
Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL): I am troubled that this bill and committee are labeling all, or the majority of, immigrants as druggies, rapists, drunk drivers and gangsters. This is not the case. Based on the hearing last week you would think there are 11 million criminals in the United States. Immigrants provide services to our economy that we all enjoy and profit from, while at the same time we are criminalizing them. Rep. King (R-IA): The President has defied the current law.
12:01pm: The amendment made by Rep. Bachus is voted on. Republicans Goodlatte, Bachus (AL), Jordan (OH), Poe (TX), Chaffetz (UT), Marino (PA), Gowdy (SC), Amodei (NV), and Labrador (ID) vote yes. The remaining Republicans and all Democrats vote no on the amendment.

The Bachus amendment is NOT agreed to.

12:05pm: The Manager's amendment is vote on.

In a party line vote (all Republicans voting Yes and all Democrats voting No) the Manager's amendment IS agreed to on a 21-15 vote.

The Bachus Amendment IS agreed to on a 17-7 vote.

1:35pm Rep. Conyers offered an amendment to strike Title I of the SAFE Act (cooperation between state/local law enforcement and federal officials). On a party line vote (all Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes) the amendment fails.

1:56pm: Rep. King offers an amendment to nullify the Morton memos.
Amendment was passed on a 19-17 vote.

3:47pm: Rep. Lofgren offers an amendments that strikes section 102 of the bill that would allow state and local law enforcement officials to arrest immigration violators. We saw what happened in Alabama and Arizona. I am concerned about what this will do to our dealings with the rest of the world if we criminalize all foreigners.
Rep. Goodlatte speaks in opposition to the amendment. This is the strongest portion of the bill to ensure that our immigration enforcement actually happens. We have to ensure that so-called sanctuary cities are not allowed to continue and flourish.
The amendment fails on a 13 to 21 vote.

4:10pm Rep. King offers an amendment to end birthright citizenship or the "anchor babies bill." The 14th amendment was passed to ensure that former slaves and their children would be American citizens. "Subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is an important part of that amendment. They did not expect there would be "birth tourism," that children of diplomats would be citizens. This is not a Constitutional right. Babies born in the U.S. are citizens if at least one of their parents is a citizen, an LPR or in the military. This is a well thought out amendment.
Rep. Goodlatte: The issue of birthright citizenship should be address, but I don't think this markup is the appropriate venue. If Rep. King would withdraw the amendment I would ensure that his concerns are addressed.
Amendment is withdrawn.

4:17pm Rep. Nadler (D-NY) offers an amendment strikes section 301B of the bill which redefines convictions to include vacated convictions. The committee recessed before voting on this amendment.