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House of Representatives Considers Immigration-Related Provisions

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 05051965 (posted May. 19, 2005)"

The House of Representatives considered a number of immigration-related provisions over the course of this week and last.

1. Expanded definition of federal "crime of violence and NCIC and immigration status violators: As we reported previously, the House passed gang-related legislation (H.R. 1279) last week that includes a provision that would expand the federal "crime of violence" definition. With this expansion would come the concomitant expansion of the aggravated felony definition. This measure could have a devastating impact on many of our clients, including long-term lawful permanent residents. Another troubling immigration-related provision included in H.R. 1279 was a requirement that all immigration status violators be entered into the National Crime Information Center Database (NCIC), including individuals who have "overstayed their visa". This measure obviously presents a host of serious problems and could lead to widespread abuse of non-citizens in this country. We will be working aggressively with the Senate Judiciary Committee and other Senators to ensure that legislation that emerges from that chamber does not include either of these provisions.

2. State and Local Law Enforcement Provisions: This week the House took up two bills - the DHS Appropriations bill and the DHS Authorization bill. As we previously reported, on Tuesday we helped defeat a CLEAR Act-like amendment sponsored by Representative Tancredo (CO) to the DHS Appropriations bill by a 165-258 vote. An identical measure that would have denied all Homeland Security funding to states and local governments that have sanctuary laws in place was defeated last year on a 148 - 259 vote.

During debate on the DHS Authorization bill yesterday, three important amendments were considered. The first amendment introduced by Representatives Cox (R-CA) and Sensenbrenner (R-WI) authorized $40 million in federal funding for state and local police agencies who enter into MOUs with ICE to enforce immigration laws. This amendment passed by a voice vote. The second amendment, introduced by Representative Norwood (R-GA) sought to declare that state and local law enforcement officers have inherent authority to enforce federal immigration laws, including the apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens in the United States. Sadly, this provision (which was drawn straight from Representative Norwood's CLEAR Act) passed by a 242-185 margin.

We strongly oppose these measures and will work to defeat them in the Senate. At this point, the Senate is not planning to act on a DHS Authorization bill. However, proponents of these misguided measures may seek to attach them to other legislation that may move through the Senate.

3. Enrollment Centers for FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS: A third amendment to the DHS Authorization bill was introduced by Representative Slaughter (D-NY). It would require DHS to create four remote enrollment centers for the FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS programs. This amendment, which AILA supported, passed by a voice vote. Given that the Senate does not at this time plan to act on a DHS Authorization bill, proponents will have to find another vehicle for it.

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