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Today’s House Immigration Hearing on “HALT” Act is Just More Politics as Usual

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halt actToday’s hearing in the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement provides another opportunity to shine a light on immigration enforcement strategies that are smart and effective, and to expose those that are irresponsible and dangerous. 

Unfortunately, it is the Committee leadership itself that is attempting to block smart enforcement strategies and advocating an irresponsible and dangerous path.

Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly (R-CA) seem intent on politicizing important law enforcement issues to promote irresponsible legislation.  One example is Rep. Smith’s so-called “HALT” Act, which would strip the Obama Administration of any decision-making power when it comes to immigration enforcement.  Tellingly, the HALT Act’s provisions expire when the next President takes office – revealing the real motivation behind Smith’s bill.  His objections are not really about law enforcement policy, but immigration politics.  In fact, several years ago Smith himself argued for the exercise of discretion in certain immigration cases. He was for it before he was against it.

Despite what we’ll likely hear from Republicans at today’s hearing, the Obama Administration has actually deported more individuals than any prior administration – leading to criticism from many immigration reform activists.  To the Administration’s credit, this summer they revamped deportation guidelines in an effort to focus on removing those who commit dangerous crimes and those who have repeatedly flouted our nation’s immigration laws.  The removal of serious criminals will be prioritized, while DREAMers and other sympathetic immigrants should see relief.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

The Obama Administration is doing what every other Administration, Republican and Democratic alike, have done for decades:  setting clear and rational priorities in order to guide law enforcement personnel in allocating scarce resources to keep our streets and communities safe.  

Rep. Smith and his Republican colleagues’ attempts to block smart immigration enforcement strategies are not only irresponsible but dangerous.  They believe in mass detention and mass deportation, with no exceptions, but the American people know that is not a solution.  Republicans in Congress should stop playing politics and instead get to work on real immigration reform.

The hearing begins at 3 PM ET. We’ll be livetweeting from @AmericasVoice.

For more information, see the below resources:

Analysis of DHS Prosecutorial Discretion Memos from John Morton (Immigration Policy Center)

Memo from Legal Experts on Prosecutorial Discretion (Immigration Policy Center)

Letter Describing New DHS Enforcement Protocol (Secretary Napolitano)

Op-Ed on Prosecutorial Discretion by Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (New York Daily News)

1999 Letter from Lamar Smith and Other Members of Congress Calling for Prosecutorial Discretion (PDF via Huffington Post)

Congressional Testimony from Lt. Col. Margaret Stock (Retired) on Smith’s “HALT Act”

Examples of Cases Targeted by the HALT Act