Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver In Support of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 2431).

Chairman Goodlatte: In the 100 days since President Trump signed Executive Orders making sense of our nation’s immigration enforcement priorities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has increased immigration arrests 38% over the same period last year.  Nearly 75% of the arrests were of convicted criminals.  The combination of revised enforcement priorities and actual enforcement has had significant results.  In February, the Border Patrol recorded a 40% drop in unlawful entrants along our borders.

After eight years of neglect by the Obama Administration, the realization that the Department of Homeland Security will actually enforce our immigration laws has made aliens think twice about violating our borders and our immigration laws.  And it was said that trying to control our borders was simply tilting at windmills.
These promising signs must be accompanied by Congress giving immigration officers the additional tools they vitally need to do their jobs and keep themselves safe.  If we act responsibly, we will conclusively demonstrate that this country will not tolerate the flagrant disregard of our laws and our hospitality, especially by those who threaten our safety and security.

For too long, the Administration has viewed immigration enforcement with disdain and its own immigration officers with contempt.  Under the Obama Administration, the number of removals from the interior of the United States declined precipitously, as did the number of removals of criminal aliens, despite ever-increasing resources and inexplicable reports to the contrary.  Under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion” and so-called “enforcement priorities”, removable aliens were essentially free to roam our country unless they had been convicted of an ever-narrowing list of offenses.

Through the use of unconstitutional Executive Orders to create a Congress of one, President Obama substantially hobbled ICE’s enforcement capabilities and prevented its dedicated public servants from carrying out their critical mission.

We are still feeling the effects of years of non-enforcement.  In March, in my own district, a Lynchburg teenager was murdered by gang members believed to be in this country illegally. Even more disturbing, one of the alleged killers had an outstanding warrant in connection with a previous murder in Maryland.  As killers and other dangerous individuals walk free, sanctuary jurisdictions that were encouraged to obstruct immigration enforcement by the previous administration hold resolute in their conviction that immigration enforcement is wrong.  This country is in desperate need of new statutory tools to enforce our immigration laws.

H.R. ­­­­­­­2431, the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Support of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, was introduced by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Raul Labrador. The bill decisively delivers the immigration enforcement tools that ICE, its officers, and all of us need in order to show the obstructionists, the criminal aliens, and all those who benefit from a culture of lawlessness that breaking our immigration laws will no longer be tolerated.  It is named after two law enforcement officers who were murdered by an illegal alien.  I know we were all deeply honored to have their widows attend the State of the Union Address as guests of President Trump.

Mr. Labrador’s bill provides DHS, and specifically ICE, with the tools it needs to protect our communities and enforce our immigration laws in the way Congress always intended.  In addition, it reverses disastrous policies by the previous Administration and ensures they are never again instituted by another Administration.

Mr. Labrador’s bill gives States and localities the explicit congressional authorization the Supreme Court requires for them to enact and enforce their own immigration laws, provided that they are consistent with federal law, and robustly assist in the enforcement of Federal law.  Real immigration reform needs to have a mechanism to prevent any president, acting alone, from simply turning off the switch on enforcement.  This bill ensures that when the Federal government fails to act, States can, if they so choose, pick up the slack.

H.R. 2431 takes giant steps in protecting jurisdictions that comply with detainers so that ICE can take custody of removable aliens they have arrested – such as by protecting them from abusive lawsuits.  And it makes clear that sanctuary jurisdictions will face the consequences of their irresponsible and unlawful actions, such as by losing federal law enforcement and homeland security grants and by becoming liable for damages to the victims of crimes committed by the aliens they have released.

By expanding the types of serious criminal activity for which we can remove aliens, including drunk driving, failure to register as a sex offender, and criminal gang membership, the bill sends a strong message that criminal aliens will not get a free pass.

H.R. 2431 is a comprehensive enforcement package that provides ICE and our States with the tools and the Congressional blessing to bolster current immigration enforcement efforts and reverse the non-enforcement of the past.  I thank Representative Labrador for championing this issue.  I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

For more on today’s markup, click here.