It seems that nowadays, the only immigration-related bills making their way through the House are those proposed by immigration hawk Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
This became crystal clear on Thursday when the House voted and approved an amendment by King to allocate $5 million so that the Department of Justice can investigate why some 36,000 immigrants convicted of crimes were released last year.
Its very consistent with the Department of Justices mission statement that they look into these actions, King said, while introducing his amendment on the House floor Wednesday night. Lets protect the American people from criminals being poured lose on the street by the tents of thousands.
The 218-193 vote to approve Kings amendment on Thursday came shortly after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told House Judiciary Committee members that he has asked for a deeper understanding of the releases. Johnson also said he intends to work with ICE leadership to determine whether we are doing everything we can to maximize public safety.
At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, King asked Johnson whether he would comply with the amendment if it were implemented. Johnson responded: You can always count on me to comply with the law, sir.
All immigration bills blocked, except Kings
Ever since the Senate approved a 1,300-page immigration reform bill last June, advocates have been pressuring members of the Republican-controlled House to do their part and pass their own legislation.
House GOP leaders have repeatedly said they do want to move on immigration reform. However, they have blocked efforts to bring up a vote on all immigration bills, except those proposed by King.
The latest legislation they blocked was an amendment by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) to allow undocumented young immigrants to enlist in the military and eventually become eligible for citizenship.
King, on the other hand, has been more successful in getting his immigration measures passed in the House. Last year, he sponsored an amendment to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows undocumented youth to stay and work in the Untied States. His amendment was approved mostly along party lines.
Now, by allowing King to get another immigration vote, advocates argue House Republicans are letting King dictate the GOPs position on immigration reform.
In a statement released shortly after Thursdays vote, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) criticized House GOP leaders for allowing a vote on Kings amendment but not the immigration reform bill, known as H.R. 15, proposed by Democrats.
This is simply inexcusable and does nothing to fix our broken immigration system, Hinojosa stated. Todays Amendment is a waste of taxpayer money and another attack on young DREAMers and the immigrant community. If Speaker Boehner and House Republicans truly want to reform our immigration system, they must allow a vote on H.R. 15 now.
Lorella Praeli, director of policy and advocacy with United We Dream, also expressed frustration. She stated that allowing Kings amendment to be brought up for a vote reaffirms our belief that the House GOP has zero intention of actually delivering on positive immigration reform legislation or changing its anti-immigrant ways.