Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado for offering this amendment with me. I'll be brief because I don't think many Members here need to be convinced that we need our Government agencies to enforce the laws we give them and that they aren't arbitrary.
Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the State Department to discontinue the issuance of visas to nations who fail to take back their nationals who have been ordered removed by our Government.
Unfortunately, this step by our Government has never been taken. Why? The gentleman from Colorado and I joined on a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to ask this very question. The chart I have here indicates the response we received and I quote:
Department of Homeland Security Response: ``While visa sanctions under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act may be an effective tool in obtaining repatriation cooperation, the severity that makes them potentially effective also has the potential to negatively impact other U.S. foreign relations objectives if not used judiciously. When considering the use of 243(d) sanctions, DHS must consider the potential repercussions to U.S. foreign policy. Because the United States is pursuing a number of initiatives with China on foreign policy issues, implementing Section 243(d) sanctions could have counterproductive effects.''--Donald H. Kent, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, January 10, 2007.
Mr. Chairman, how this reads to me is that our trade with nations like China is more important than providing for the safety of the American people. Many of the people who we are trying to remove are hardened criminals, violent felons that we want off our streets. Because of two recent Supreme Court decisions, our government is limited in the length of time we can hold them in our jails while working to remove them. If we can't remove them in 6 months, they are to be set free. Now how many are we talking about here? As this chart shows, here are the top offending countries and the number roaming America:
|Eight countries||Detained criminal non-criminal||Non-detained criminal/non-criminal||Total||Vietnam||352||5,807||6,159||Jamaica||715||11,568||12,283||Iran||105||7,039||7,144||India||253||28,540||28,793||Ethiopia||108||4,454||4,562||Eritrea||21||637||658||China||885||72,315||73,200||Laos||140||3,302||3,442||Total||2,579||133,662||136,241|
According to a Department of Homeland Security Inspector General audit in April 2006, ``The difficulty that ICE is experiencing removing undocumented aliens with final orders has, in effect, created a mini-amnesty program for tens of thousands of undocumented aliens that are subject to removal from the U.S. It also encourages individuals from non-cooperating countries such as China, India, and Iran to make attempts to enter the U.S. illegally.
So let me close by again saying this amendment that I and the gentleman from Colorado are offering just says to enforce existing law. Unless these nations believe that they will not obtain a visa in the future, nothing is ever going to change.