House Committee Passes Legislation to Shield U.S. From Criminals and Terrorists
FAIR Take | January 2024
Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee debated and passed four immigration bills aimed at denying admission or deporting foreign nationals who have committed specific crimes, including driving under the influence, evading arrest, and Social Security fraud. One bill specifically bars the admission of Hamas terrorists.
Under current law, the federal government can deny admission to foreign nationals on a variety of grounds, including criminal activity, national security, communicable diseases, likelihood of becoming a public charge, prior deportations, and prior immigration violations. Not only are these reasons to deny someone entry, they are also grounds for deportation or denying immigration benefits to aliens already in the United States.
The four bills passed by the House Judiciary Committee and headed to the full House of Representatives include:
Driving Under the Influence. H.R. 6976, authored by Congressman Barry Moore (R-AL), would make aliens who have been convicted of or who have committed an offense for driving while impaired inadmissible and deportable. Today, driving under the influence is not sufficient grounds for removing an alien or denying an immigration benefit. Congressman Moore said that, in 2023 alone, there were over 13,384 impaired driving fatalities in the United States. He described several incidents in which illegal aliens with DUI convictions harmed or killed Americans, but could not be deported under the law.
Evading Arrest or Detention. H.R. 5585, a bill from Congressman Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ), would impose criminal and immigration penalties for intentionally fleeing a federal officer while operating a motor vehicle. The bill, in part, is in response to high-speed chases and tragic incidents along the border as illegal aliens attempt to evade law enforcement to smuggle aliens or narcotics. During the mark-up, members discussed several tragic incidents, including one where Border Patrol Agent Raul Humberto Gonzalez Jr. died after crashing his vehicle into a physical barrier in attempting to arrest illegal aliens. These chases not only impact Border Patrol Agents but also innocent bystanders who live along the border. In addition to adding new penalties, the bill makes aliens who intentionally evade law enforcement in vehicles inadmissible and deportable.
Social Security Fraud. H.R. 6678, authored by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA), would make aliens who have been convicted of or who have committed Social Security fraud inadmissible and deportable. Congressman McClintock described how identity fraud is a serious crime that leaves many American victims in its wake. Some lose their savings, some lose benefits, and some are left with bad credit. In 2017, before the Biden Border Crisis began, there were 1.2 million cases in which illegal aliens used social security numbers that belonged to someone else or were fabricated. He said it is difficult to hold illegal aliens accountable for this fraud, and said this bill was needed to limit their ability to obtain immigration benefits and make them removable.
Terrorist Attacks Against Israel. H.R. 6679, a bill from Congressman McClintock (R-CA), would bar the government from granting immigration benefits to Hamas terrorists who planned, financed, supported, or otherwise facilitated attacks against Israel. It would also make such aliens subject to the grounds of inadmissibility and deportability. Since the attacks on Israel in October 2023, an estimated one million illegal aliens have been encountered at our borders, nearly all released into the interior of the country. Law enforcement and national security experts have warned that suspected terrorists may use the open border to enter and carry out attacks. FBI Director Wray told Congress that ”We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration, the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago. In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the West.” He further said that “We cannot—and do not—discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here, on our own soil.”
Together, these four bills shore up our ability to keep bad actors out of the country and remove those who endanger Americans. All four bills passed out of the committee, largely on party-line votes, with all Republicans supporting them and Democrats voting no on three of the bills and present on H.R. 6679. In order to pass, the bills must travel through the House Rules Committee and then get a majority of votes on the floor of the House of Representatives.