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Government Security News - Two Democrats blast 'poison pill' amendment to House homeland security appropriations bill

June 8, 2013
In The News

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking Democrat on the full House Committee on Appropriations and Rep. David Price (D-NC), ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, on June 6 slammed an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act preventing continued implementation of a policy that has allowed thousands of law-abiding undocumented immigrants to live without fear of deportation.

"The House majority simply cannot help themselves," said Rep. Lowey. "Despite an emerging consensus in support of allowing law-abiding undocumented immigrants to live, work, and study without fear of deportation, the House majority would force these individuals back into the shadows. Enforcement policy that targets law-abiding individuals as aggressively as serious criminals does nothing to enhance public safety and national security. It is simply cruel and foolish. It is especially disturbing that the majority would inject this divisive issue into an otherwise strong and bipartisan bill funding public safety and preparedness, a goal shared by Democrats and Republicans."

"I am deeply disappointed that the poison pill King Amendment passed, needlessly scuttling months of bipartisan work by the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee," said Rep. Price. "While it may sound good on conservative talk shows, this is the kind of legislative arson Republican leaders used to nip in the bud. They now appear powerless, or unwilling, to do so. The same amendment to the FY2013 bill forced me to withdraw my support for that measure, and this year's amendment twists the knife further by opening the door to the deportation of DREAM Act children."

"Unbelievably, the King Amendment requires that DHS ignore its own rule stating that 'aliens who pose a danger to national security or public safety are priority one for removal'," Price added. "This is what every law enforcement agency in the country does, using their limited resources: place a priority on going after the people who would do us the most harm. It is an absurd amendment, unworthy of this body."

The amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) would prohibit the use of funds to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce ICE policy guidance related to the use of prosecutorial discretion, including a June 15, 2012, memo from Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano setting priorities on dangerous criminals ahead of "certain young people who were brought to this country as children and know only this county as home."

By prohibiting prosecutorial discretion, the House majority would prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from focusing its enforcement resources on those who pose a threat to public safety and national security. Instead, the House majority would require ICE to focus just as much time and energy on law-abiding individuals, such as the estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives ("the DREAMers); victims of domestic violence and other crimes who come forward to seek protection and identify their abusers; and spouses of U.S. citizens serving in the military.

The amendment passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234-201.