Gowdy Immigration Bill Passes House Judiciary Committee
Today the House Judiciary Committee approved the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act, the SAFE Act, introduced by Immigration Subcommittee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC). The SAFE Act improves interior enforcement of our nation's immigration laws. Congressman Gowdy released this statement after the Committee voted 20-15 to approve the SAFE Act:
"Ensuring public safety and protecting national security must be the primary objective of immigration reform. Our history of selective enforcement of immigration laws has made our nation vulnerable, threating the wellbeing of every citizen."
"The SAFE Act represents a common sense approach to the enforcement of our nation’s laws. Utilizing the law enforcement infrastructure existing in every state and community across this country to support enforcement efforts increases accountability and effectiveness, while using resources wisely.
"America is a nation of laws and a democracy comprised of a people who have a deep and abiding respect for the rule of law. The open process is long and tedious but absolutely necessary for all perspectives to be heard. The passage of the SAFE Act by the House Judiciary Committee is the first step in a larger reform process."
Key Components of the SAFE Act:
· Grants States and Localities the Authority to Enforce Immigration Laws: The bill grants states and localities specific congressional authorization to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and includes provisions to facilitate their assistance. It also allows states and localities to enact and enforce their own immigration laws as long as they are consistent with federal law. In addition, the bill withholds specific grants from sanctuary cities that defy federal immigration enforcement efforts.
· Strengthens National Security: The bill makes it more difficult for foreign terrorists and other foreign nationals who pose national security concerns to enter and remain in the United States. Of note, the bill bars foreign terrorists or removable immigrants who threaten national security from receiving immigration benefits, such as naturalization and discretionary relief from removal, among other things. The bill also requires that no immigration benefits can be provided to immigrants until all required background and security checks are completed.
· Protects American Communities from Dangerous Criminal Aliens: The bill protects the American public by facilitating and expediting the removal of criminal aliens. In the instance a dangerous criminal immigrant cannot be removed from the U.S., the bill allows the Department of Homeland Security to detain them.
· Improves Visa Security: The bill improves our nation’s first line of defense, the visa issuance process. The bill expands the Visa Security Program to additional high risk posts, strengthens the integrity of the student visa program, and authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to revoke visas to foreign nationals if in the security or foreign policy interests of the U.S., among other provisions.
· Helps ICE Officers Better Do Their Jobs: The bill assists U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in carrying out their jobs of enforcing federal immigration laws by allowing them to make arrests for immigration violations, federal felonies, federal criminal offenses for bringing in and harboring unlawful immigrants, and offenses against the U.S. The bill also allows them to carry firearms and provides them body armor.
· Strengthens Border Security: The bill prohibits the Departments of Interior and Agriculture from preventing Border Patrol agents access to federal lands within 100 miles of the border. This will better enable Border Patrol agents to secure our border and prevent illegal activity, such as illegal immigration, smuggling, and drug trafficking. It also prohibits the interference of Border Patrol activities, such as construction and maintenance of roads and barriers, use of patrol vehicles, and deployment of tactical infrastructure.
· Reviews Administration’s Abuse of Prosecutorial Discretion: The bill requires a report to Congress each year on the abuse of prosecutorial discretion by the Administration.