By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, August 1, 2014, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery joined Alabama colleagues Rep. Mike Rogers (R) and Rep. Bradley Byrne in voting to pass two bills which would prohibit any new amnesty applications under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, stop the President from issuing work permits outside of current law and provide additional resources for the National Guard to help secure the border.
Supporting this key measure is part of keeping a commitment to secure the border first, Rep. Roby said. “The situation at the Mexican border is out of control. We must beef up our border security and close the trafficking law loophole that is a root cause of this current influx.”
Rep. Roby said that disparate opinions over the details of the bill dragged negotiations out for an extra day, which actually made the bill stronger. Rep. Roby said, “Ultimately the continued negotiations produced a stronger bill to address the border crisis. Our bill prioritizes funding toward border security and reuniting the unaccompanied children with their parents in their home countries. More time also allowed for strengthening language aimed to prevent the government from housing detained immigrants at military bases like Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery. I want to thank my colleague Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) for his diligent work on that issue.”
Congressman Mike Rogers (R) from Saks said, “The American people expect our laws to be enforced and our borders secured. I hope this action will send a strong message to our southern neighbors that America takes its borders and sovereignty seriously and will not tolerate a mad dash into this country.”
Rep Rogers said, “I was disappointed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the Senate home for a long recess without passing any legislation to help address this crisis. Senator Reid should order the Senate back to Washington immediately to take up the House-passed bills.”
Rep. Bradley Byrne said, “The crisis at our southern border must be addressed, but the answer isn’t just to give President Obama a blank check. The border security bill passed in the House today would pave the way for real border security that is so desperately needed. The bill also allows for the more swift, yet still compassionate, return of the unaccompanied minors at our southern border.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “There is no doubt President Obama’s continued threat of executive action has only exacerbated the problem. By prohibiting the expansion of President Obama’s DACA amnesty program, this bill would send a clear message that his unilateral executive action must stop. The language in H.R. 5272 is very clear in that no further forms of blanket amnesty will be allowed. Until President Obama puts his pen down and hangs up the phone to engage in good-faith negotiations with Congress, I will be hard pressed to support any immigration legislation.”
The legislation would expressly prohibit the housing of unauthorized immigrants on military bases if it will displace service members or interfere with military activities at the installation. Such an arrangement is under consideration at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.
The second measure aimed to prevent President Obama from using the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to issue de facto amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants already in the country. The supplemental appropriations bill, H.R. 5230, allocates $405 million for enhanced border protection and law enforcement, including: $334 million for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to address the rise in unaccompanied immigrant children at the Mexican border; $71 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for detention, processing and transportation of illegal immigrants; Additionally, the bill allocates $70 million to double the National Guard presence at the border, and $22 million to speed up judicial proceedings in immigrant cases.
The total cost is $694 million, which is offset by recessions from other areas of federal spending. H.R. 5230 amends the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (PL 110-457), which deals with unaccompanied children detained at the border. The law revision would allow for faster processing and removal of detained children arriving from Central America.
The bills would also prohibit Federal agencies from denying access or activities to border patrol agents on Federal park or Federal monument land; accelerate judicial proceedings for immigrants; and strengthen laws prohibiting criminals with serious drug-related convictions from applying for asylum.
H.R. 5230 passed by a vote of 223 to 189.
H.R. 5272 which prevents the President from taking any Executive action to authorize new deferred action on illegal aliens and prohibits the President from taking any executive action to grant new work authorizations to illegal aliens. The bill explicitly prohibits any blanket amnesty. The bill passed by a vote of 216 to 192.
Rep. Byrne said, “At the request of myself and some of my Alabama colleagues, I am pleased that House leadership included provisions to expedite the deportation process and strengthen the language prohibiting further executive action. With these changes made, I feel confident that this bill is the right step forward. By not acting on this bill before the August District Work Period, the House would be playing right into President Obama’s hands and further encourage his use of executive action. The House has now acted to address the border crisis while the Senate has skipped town. I implore the Senate to return to Washington right away to pass these bills and make positive steps toward real border security.”
Neither bill is likely to pass the Democrat controlled U.S. Senate.
A wide partisan divide exists between the two political parties. Democrats support giving amnesty and a path to citizenship to up to 12 million illegal aliens already in the country, increasing legal immigration to over two million per year, and support accepting large numbers of refugees from around the world.
Conservatives led by Senators Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama and Ted Cruz (R) from Texas support a plan with more border enforcement and a more restrained immigration plan that protects American workers.
Many politicians from both parties had hoped that Congress could have settled this issue before the summer recess. Instead the crisis on the border is unresolved and no agreement has been reached on immigration reform. Meanwhile the President continues to hint at more Executive actions to give more and more illegal immigrants lawful status and a work visa to stay in the country. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of illegals are predicted to come to this country in the next 18 months.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional Districts, while Mike Rogers represents the Third, and Bradley Byrne represents the First District. All three are seeking re-election.