Rep. Poe Amends DHS Funding Bill To Prevent "Administrative Amnesty"

June 02, 2011 11:26 am ET

Last night on the House floor, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security funding bill to prevent DHS from using any funds for "deferred action," which is the practice of indefinitely postponing a deportation due to special circumstances. Poe's amendment allows exceptions for "humanitarian reasons" and "significant public benefit to the United States," which led Rep. David Price (D-NC) to support the amendment because it shores up "the department's broad discretionary authority to grant administrative relief" to deserving individuals scheduled for deportation.

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POE: What is taking place is uh, under the guise of granting deferred action. "Deferred action" is a procedure, an administrative procedure, by the administration, that is used when a person is detained who is illegally in the United States, and that person's action, the criminal action, or the action to deport that individual rather, is deferred to some unknown date. The person is released, and what occurs is, that person is never deported, and never has a hearing. It started, this procedure started years ago with a few hundred people a year. But last year in 2010 over 12,000 people had their immigration deportation hearings deferred to an unknown date. And what occurred was, they were released. And their action against them will never be taken. Some call this a form of amnesty, administrative amnesty. You can call it whatever you want, but those people stay in the United States. What this amendment does is prohibit the administration from using under the guise of deferred action this procedure to not have hearings on individuals, which allows them to end up staying in the United States. And no funds can be used to implement deferred action, except in two cases. One is under humanitarian reasons, and the second would be some significant public benefit to the United States. Otherwise, no deferred action, no get-outta-jail-free card for people on a discriminatory basis done by the administration or any of its agencies. And I urge adoption of this amendment and yield back the balance of my time.

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PRICE: Madame Chair, I support this amendment because it restates the department's broad discretionary authority to grant administrative relief or deferred action to deserving individuals. The authority of law enforcement agencies to exercise discretion in deciding what cases to investigate and prosecute under existing civil and criminal law, including immigration law, is fundamental to the American legal system. And since this amendment recognizes this essential executive authority, especially when it comes to relief for humanitarian purposes or when it serves the public's interest, I recommend that my colleagues support it.

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