June 24, 2008
From the Office of Homeland Appropriations Ranking Member Hal Rogers:
Contact: Will Smith (202) 225-4601
Committee Democrats Vote To Impede Border Fence Construction; Illegal Immigration Measures; and Intelligence
WASHINGTON, DC . — Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee voted down a series of amendments related to securing the border, enhancing illegal immigration enforcement, and supporting key intelligence programs during consideration of the FY09 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Most notably, the bill withholds $400 million from border fence construction unless a broad range of onerous requirements are met by the Department of Homeland Security. Efforts by Ranking Member Harold “Hal”
Rogers to reject these restrictions and replace them with the previously approved and responsible expenditure plan requirements were turned away.
“While I’m pleased to see the FY09 bills get under way under regular order, I’m concerned that the fence provisions in the Homeland bill go well beyond the authorizing law, are unfairly burdensome, and constitute a virtual “stop work” order on fence construction. Only a quarter of last year’s withheld funds have been released and these new restrictions will further hog-tie the fence,” stated
Rogers . “Further, the bill does not adequately address our needs for interior immigration enforcement, and could potentially cripple rapid information sharing by our Intelligence Community – doing so at our own peril.”
Other amendments rejected by Committee Democrats include:
Amendment by Rep. John Carter: Add $12 million to the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) State and local law enforcement training program to fully fund the President’s request for this program. 287(g) trains local law enforcement personnel in enforcement of
U.S. immigration laws, which effectively expands efforts to curb illegal immigration and helps local communities address the impact of criminal aliens.
Amendment by Rep. Ken Calvert: Continuation of the E-Verify pilot program. The popular E-Verify program provides
U.S. employers with an effective on-line tool to verify employee eligibility through the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. The Calvert amendment would have authorized continuation of this program past the November 30, 2008 expiration date.
Amendment by Rep. Todd Tiahrt: Lifted funding restrictions for critical CBP and Coast Guard intelligence programs until internal privacy reviews are completed and certified. The amendment would have maintained the requisite privacy reviews and subsequent certifications, but without a wholesale restriction on funds for critical intelligence information gathering and sharing operations.
Amendment by Rep. Mark Kirk: Following several security breeches at commercial airports, the amendment would have mandated participation of critical airport employees operating in secure areas be vetted through the E-Verify system. Instead a weaker substitute amendment was agreed upon leaving airport participation to the discretion of the Transportation Security Administration.
Rogers has served on the Appropriations Committee for 25 years and as the top Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Homeland Security since the Department’s inception in 2002.
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