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Sheila J.
Democrat TX 18

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  • Providing for Consideration of H.R. 37, Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act

    by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

    Posted on 2015-01-13

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    JACKSON LEE asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.) Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I think my good friends who are on the floor today, my good friends on the Republican side of the aisle, have failed to read the Constitution, which includes, clearly, the President's authority for executive actions and not, as they have articulated, an executive order.

    And it says in the ``take care clause'' that he has the ability to manage this government, as Presidents Reagan and Eisenhower did.

    What I would offer to say is, there is nothing in what the President has done but to exercise executive action. But I will say to them that Secretary Johnson of Homeland Security has said that we are placing ourselves in a dangerous position, not because of the President's actions, not because of the appropriations bill, but because of these enormous poison pills that are stamping and stomping on the President's right to executive action.

    I oppose all of the bills that are presently in this rule, including the regulatory bill, the Financial Services--all of them have poison pills. The regulatory bill, for example, wants 70 criteria before any agency can pass a regulation.

    Yes, to my Republican friends, we are in a moment, a historic moment. France was more than a wake-up call. But what I will say to you is that we can pass a clean Homeland Security appropriations bill and we can end this dangerous condition that we are in.

    I would ask my colleagues to eliminate the poison pills of pulling back on the President's constitutional authority.

    Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule for H.R. 240, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015.

    I oppose the rule because, if passed, the five Republican amendments made in order by the Rules Committee guarantee the bill will be vetoed by the President at a time when ensuring that the agencies charged with securing our border and protecting the homeland have the resources needed to keep us safe should be our highest priority.

    House Republicans are playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with the security of America's homeland by recklessly adding this ``poison pill'' to legislation needed to fund the agencies and programs charged with securing the border and protecting the homeland.

    Mr. Speaker, the amendments to H.R. 240 made in order by the Rules Committee are simply the latest attempt by House Republicans to prohibit the executive branch from exempting or deferring from deportation any immigrants considered to be unlawfully present in the United States under U.S. immigration law, and to prohibit the administration from treating those immigrants as if they were lawfully present or had lawful immigration status.

    The rule we are being asked to accept makes in order amendment that seek to block the executive actions taken President Obama to address our broken immigration system by providing smarter enforcement at the border, prioritize deporting felons--not families--and allowing certain undocumented immigrants, including the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents, who pass a criminal background check and pay taxes to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

    Mr. Speaker, the executive actions taken by President Obama are reasonable, responsible, and within his constitutional authority.

    Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the President, who is the nation's Chief Executive, ``shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.'' In addition to establishing the President's obligation to execute the law, the Supreme Court has consistently interpreted the Take Care Clause as ensuring presidential control over those who execute and enforce the law and the authority to decide how best to enforce the laws. See, e.g., Arizona v. United States; Bowsher v. Synar; Buckley v. Valeo; Printz v. United States; Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB.

    Every law enforcement agency, including the agencies that enforce immigration laws, has ``prosecutorial discretion''--the power to decide whom to investigate, arrest, detain, charge, and prosecute.

    Agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), may develop discretionary policies specific to the laws they are charged with enforcing, the population they serve, and the problems they face so that they can prioritize resources to meet mission critical enforcement goals.

    Executive authority to take action is thus ``fairly wide,'' indeed the federal government's discretion is extremely ``broad'' as the Supreme Court held in the recent case of Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012), an opinion written Justice Kennedy and joined by Chief Justice Roberts: Congress has specified which aliens may be removed from the United States and the procedures for doing so. Aliens may be removed if they were inadmissible at the time of entry, have been convicted of certain crimes, or meet other criteria set by federal law. Removal is a civil, not criminal, matter. A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials. Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all. If removal proceedings commence, aliens may seek asylum and other discretionary relief allowing them to remain in the country or at least to leave without formal removal. (emphasis added) (citations omitted).

    The Court's decision in Arizona v. United States, also strongly suggests that the executive branch's discretion in matters of deportation may be exercised on an individual basis, or it may be used to protect entire classes of individuals such as ``[u]nauthorized workers trying to support their families'' or immigrants who originate from countries torn apart by internal conflicts: [[Page H242]] Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law embraces immediate human concerns.

    Unauthorized workers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who commit a serious crime. The equities of an individual case may turn on many factors, including whether the alien has children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service.

    Mr. Speaker, in exercising his broad discretion in the area of removal proceedings, President Obama has acted responsibly and reasonably in determining the circumstances in which it makes sense to pursue removal and when it does not.

    In exercising this broad discretion, President Obama not done anything that is novel or unprecedented.

    Here are a just a few examples of executive action taken by several presidents, both Republican and Democratic, on issues affecting immigrants over the past 35 years: 1. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan used executive action in 1987 to allow 200,000 Nicaraguans facing deportation to apply for relief from expulsion and work authorization.

    2. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush issued an executive order that granted Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to certain nationals of the People's Republic of China who were in the United States.

    3. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush granted DED to certain nationals of El Salvador.

    Mr. Speaker, because of the President's leadership and far-sighted executive action, 594,000 undocumented immigrants in my home state of Texas are eligible for deferred action.

    If these immigrants are able to remain united with their families and receive a temporary work permit, it would lead to a $338 million increase in tax revenues, over five years.

    America's borders are dynamic, with constantly evolving security challenges. Border security must be undertaken in a manner that allows actors to use pragmatism and common sense.

    And as shown by the success in the last Congress of H.R. 1417, the bipartisan ``Border Security Results Act, which I helped to write and introduced along with the senior leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee, we can do this without putting the nation at risk or rejecting our national heritage as a welcoming and generous nation.

    This legislation has been incorporated in H.R. 15, the bipartisan ``Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,'' legislation which reflects nearly all of the core principles announced professed last year by House Republicans.

    As a nation of immigrants, the United States has set the example for the world as to what can be achieved when people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences come together.

    We can and should seize this historic opportunity pass legislation to ensure that we have in place adequate systems and resources to secure our borders while at the same preserving America's character as the most open and welcoming country in the history of the world and to reap the hundreds of billions of dollars in economic productivity that will result from comprehensive immigration reform.

    President Obama has acted boldly, responsibly, and compassionately.

    If congressional Republicans, who refused to debate comprehensive immigration reform legislation for more than 500 days, disapprove of the lawful actions taken by the President, an alternative course of action is readily available to them: pass a bill and send it to the President for signature.

    Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to vote against the rule so we can put an end to the dangerous game of playing Russian Roulette with the security of America's homeland.

    Let us defeat this rule and bring to the floor a clean Homeland Security spending bill that the President can sign into law.

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