tv House Debate on Criminal Alien Gang Members CSPAN September 14, 2017 6:47pm-8:01pm EDT
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>> earlier today, the house debated a bill that seeks to enhance safety by making it illegal for foreign gang members to enter the u.s. the measure passed 233-175. next up, floor debate for the bill, beginning with remarks from idaho congressman raul labrador. this is an hour and 10 minutes. for what purpose does the gentleman from idaho seek recognition? mr. labrador: mr. speaker, i all up the bill h.r. 3697, the criminal alien gang member removal act and ask for its immediate consideration. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the bill. the clerk: h.r. 3697, a bill to amend the immigration and nationality act with respect to aliens associated with criminal gangs, and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 513, the amendment printed in house report 115-307 is adopted and the bill, as amended, is
considered as read. the gentleman from idaho, mr. labrador, and the gentlewoman from california, ms. lofgren, each will control 30 minutes. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from idaho. mr. labrador: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials to h.r. 3697. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. labrador: mr. speaker, i rise today in support of h.r. 3697, the criminal alien gang member removal act. i introduced this bill with chairman goodlatte and representatives comstock and king for a very simple reason. the united states is facing an ever-growing danger from transnational gangs, and u.s. immigration and enforcement, better known as i.c.e., needs more tools to deal with this danger. the federal government's most important responsibility is the safety and security of the american people. however, we're not fulfilling
that responsibility when we allow gangs to illegally enter our country with the expressed purpose of victimizing innocent americans. in communities across our country, transnational gangs are using violence and the threat of violence to create a climate of fear that allows them to operate with near impunity. they regularly target local business owners and law enforcement officials. innocent bystanders, those unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time are also paying a price. according to i.c.e., these gangs, quote, have grown to become a serious threat in american communities across the nation. not only in cities but increasingly in suburban and even rural areas, and entire neighborhoods and sometimes whole communities are held hostage by and subjected to their violence, end quote. furthermore, i.c.e. has found that, quote, membership of these violent transnational gangs is comprised largely of foreign-born nationals, end
quote. the most infamous transnational gang, of course, is ms-13, which entered the u.s. in the 1980's. today it has over 10,000 gang members operating in inside the united states alone -- operating inside the united states alone. at every level, our officials are working to curb this threat with large-scale enforcement actions. this is with new dawn which had 1,100 arrests over a six-week period. victims and witnesses of gang crime are often reluctant to testify because of the quite reasonable fear of retaliation against them or their families. thus, many gang members are never convicted of the crimes they have committed. the question is often asked -- why should law-abiding americans have to wait until an alien gang member has to have a
reportable crime? current immigration law contains dangerous loopholes that alien gang members are exploiting. currently an alien may not be deported even if he's known to be a member of a criminal gang or participating in gang activities. i.c.e. must wait for the gang member to be first convicted of a deportable offense. h.r. 3697 changes that. for the first time, i.c.e. will be permitted to place alien gang members into removal proceedings on the grounds of being criminal gang members. our bill sets out clear specifications for crimes are considered gang related, relining on long standing federal criminal law to determine what a gang or group consists of. in addition, our bill permits the secretary of homeland security using procedures already used by the secretary of state to designate a gang as a criminal gang. this would be done in a transparent way through
notification to congress and publication in the federal register and with meaningful judicial review. the conclusive decision as to whether to place an alien in removal proceedings would rest with the department of homeland security. and when an alien is charged, the charge must be proven by evidence on the record in immigration court. i have heard some say that i.c.e. will use these provisions to charge any alien they encounter with gang activity. our bill will not allow that. as a former immigration attorney i know the importance of due process and know how important it is for immigrants and everyone within the jurisdiction of the immigration court to receive due process and i can tell you our bill is consistent with due process. under h.r. 3697, i.c.e. has the burden of proof when charging an alien with a deportable offense, and while the alien has the burden of proof when they are inadmirable, a denial of gang membership should be
sufficient to shift the burden back to the government. the government must convince an immigration judge of its case and, of course, an alien order removed as a gang member has every right to appeal that order to the board of immigration appeals and then to the federal courts. ultimately, h.r. 3697 is about providing law enforcement with the necessary tools to combat gang activity in every community in our country. this is essential if we as elected officials are committed to our responsibility to keep the american people safe and secure. that is the purpose of h.r. 3697. this is the third time this year the house is holding a floor vote on portions of the davis-oliver act, which i introduced back in may, to make our country safer through stronger immigration enforcement. i am proud that the house passed the first two bills that came from davis-oliver, kate's law and the no sanctuary for criminals act, and i encourage my colleagues to vote for h.r. 3697 as well.
we must take action now or watch crime rates rise in our nation. there is no place in our country for criminal alien gang members, and any legislation which makes it easier to deport them deserves the support of every member of this body. i urge all my colleagues to support this legislation and reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from idaho reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from california is recognized. mrs. love depren: good morning, mr. speaker -- ms. lofgren: good morning, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lofgren: i rise in opposition to h.r. 3697. gang members and serious criminals should not be granted admission to the united states. that's not a controversial position. i think almost every member of congress, democrat or republican, agrees with that. it's our highest priority to protect the safety of the american people. that's a duty i think we all take seriously. but this bill does something
other than that. the title of the bill is the "criminal alien gang member removal act," and as we've seen in the past, there are times when the name of a bill is not always reflected in the actual proposed language of the statute, and that's true in this case. first, section 2-a of the bill defines criminal gang as an ongoing group, club, organization or association of five or more persons that has one of its primary purposes the commission of one or more of a wide range of offenses. this may seem reasonable until you look at the offenses listed. these offenses could sweep in many people that no reasonable person would think of as a gang member. for example, one of the offenses relates to the harboring of undocumented immigrants. this statute includes people who give shelter to, transport or provide other kinds of aid to undocumented immigrants.
that means that under this bill, a religious organization that aids undocumented immigrants could be a criminal gang. now, this isn't just theoretical. during the 1980's, members of the faith community were repeatedly criminally prosecuted for providing transportation to undocumented immigrants. in one case, the f.b.i. even infiltrated a bible study group to learn about the group's plan to support undocumented immigrants. under this bill, d.h.s. would have expanded authority to go after all such groups as criminal gangs. in one fell swoop, it could turn nuns into gang members. the bill also refers to felony drug offense which would include the repeated possession of marijuana. now, in california, my state, along with several other states, voters decided to
decriminalize marijuana. first, for medical uses, and later for broader uses. under this bill, a group that regularly gets together to use marijuana that's legal under a state law would still be committing a felony under federal law and would be a criminal gang. that include groups of people who are using marijuana for medicinal purposes to treat epilepsy or cancer who are taking marijuana consistent with state law. second, the bill authorizes d.h.s. to deny admission or to deport any immigrant, including one who has no criminal history or gang affiliation whatsoever so long as d.h.s. merely believes the person is associated with such a group. ection 2-b and 2-c of the bill expressly authorizes d.h.s. officers and immigration judges to deport an immigrant on nothing more than a reason to
believe that the individual has been a member of a gang or has participated in the activities of a gang as defined under these rather broad provisions. there's no need for a conviction or even an arrest. all d.h.s. needs is the belief that the individual assisted any group of five or more people that d.h.s. believes has committed one of these long list of offenses. this belief could be as minimal as the color of a person's shirt, the neighborhood they live in or the individuals in their family. this is not just unreasonable, it's probably unconstitutional. now, chairman goodlatte had a self-actualizing amendment when change was adopted to the evidentiary standard. i think it recognizes the problem with the bill, but the amendment really doesn't cure
the problem with the breath of the criminal gang definition and doesn't change the standard that applies to people seeking admission to the country, including those who are seeking reunite with u.s. citizen spouses, spouses, pearnlts, children. i met with police officers who asked me to do what i could to defeat this unwise bill. they know, because they're out on the front lines, that gangs are a real problem and they told me that bills like this, which could turn religious individuals, nuns, cancer victims into targets is just going to get in their way as police officers. if we want to keep america safe and admit immigrants who do not have a felony record, i would suggest that we consider the bipartisan dream act, h.r. 3440. this bill would provide a path to legal permanent residence for 800,000 young people who were raised in america, who
consider this to be their home, who represent the very best of our country. instead of debating whether we should allow i.c.e. officers to target religious workers, we should focus on what really makes this country great. now, i would like to note there's been much discussion about the drafting of this bill and that the rules committee allowed, i guess it was last night, republicans defended the bill by asserting that the broad provisions would not be abused by i.c.e. officers even if they could target the nuns, that they wouldn't do that. even if they could target the cancer victims or the teenagers smoking marijuana after school as gang members, that they wouldn't do that. now, i'm not suggesting that the teenagers smoking marijuana after school, that that's a good thing, but it's not ms-13, and that's what we're trying to
make a distinction here between a gang abatement bill and garden variety activity that we may not like. now, one really very good member, very thoughtful member on the other side of the aisle suggested that if there's a problem with the bill we'll just come back and fix it. here's why that's a problem. we know that when we draft something in a poor manner, it often goes on to be enforced and we never get around to fixing it. i'll give you an example. we passed years ago -- i objected at the time. henry hyde was chairman of the committee. about a provision that barred people from gaining status as they provided material support to terrorists. well, that sounds like a good idea but what does it mean? it turns out that material support, which was never qualified to include support
given under duress or given in the ordinary course of a commercial activity has now been used to bar people who are not terrorists, who didn't give material support and i'll give you an example. a group of women -- and they are called the tortilla terrorists. these are women who were threatened with their lives and made tortillas because they were threatened with death for guerrilla actors. . they were denied asylum because of the tortillas. hence the name the tortilla terrorists. i think most of us would agree that's not terrorism. yet we drafted the bill in such a way that the department felt that they had to enforce it in that way and we have never gone back to it. to think that somehow if we write a law poorliering it's going to be fixed in the administration, that's just
wrong. we should step back from this. we should work together. this was just introduced last week. i know the safe act had hearings years ago, but i think we would be better off if we sat down together, we reasoned together, we worked through the defects in this draft, and came up with a bill that really targeted ms-13 members, something we could all support and well served our country. i'll just say that sister campbell, one of the leading nuns in america, explained her opposition to this bill. she said the bill's harboring provisions under ina-274 are so sweeping that religious workers shelter, shelter, transportation, or support to undocumented immigrants could be found libel of criminal activity. this statute has been used
against religious workers in the past and the bill tries to make it a weapon for the future. let's listen to the nuns like we did in school and step back, redraft this bill and today oppose this poorly drafted measure. i retain the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from idaho recognized. mr. labrador: i'm pleased to yield five minutes to the gentlelady from virginia, mrs. comstock, one of the lead -- lead sponsor of this bill. e speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from virginia is recognized for five minutes. mrs. comstock: thank you. mr. speaker, early this summer on a friday night, about 30 miles from this capitol, i went on a ride along in my district with our northern virginia regional task force. gentlelady from virginia is recognized for five minutes. mrs. comstock: a young boy standing on the sidewalk along sterling boulevard in sterling, virginia, caught the eye of a veteran member of our task force. the young man on the street looked about 15 or 16 years old, but he was actually a
22-year-old member of the transnational violent street gang known as ms-13. he was covered in ms-13 gang ttoos, on his chest, back, feet. it turned out he had been in jail in el salvador for murder as a teenager and had already been deported from feet. it turned out he the u.s. twice for engaging in violent crimes here. three other of the estimated it thousands of ms-13 gang members that are just here in our capital region were also picked up that night. there have been cases in northern virginia where suspected member of the ms-13 gang has been deported five times yet returned again. to continue their gang activity. at a town festival in herndon this year, the gang task force identified, because they go to these events and see these people, and there is an estimated 200 to 300 suspected gang members milling about among the families who are
getting cotton candy and hot dogs for their kids, right there looking to recruit in their own communities. mr. speaker, since november, 2016, at least eight murders have been committed and tied to ms-13 and other gangs in our area. representing 166% increase over the last year in the northern virginia region. ms-13 linked vicious murder occurred in november, 2015. they are all vicious when you are talking about ms-13. this happened on alexandria about und in the evening eight miles from this capitol. it resulted in the death of a 24-year-old, joseer ifman. he was nearly decapitated in the machete about eight miles attack. his body was left on the playground and was goundfound her dog the king next morning. it could have been one of the kids playing on the playground finding that.
"the washington post" has highlighted how the 2014 border surge has contributed to the ms-13 problem and i her dog quo haven't street gang is on the rise in the united states fueled in part by the surge in unaccompanied minors. a recent "washington post" article documented the case of gang members who videotaped the murder of a 15-year-old girl who was savagely beaten by multiple people and repeatedly stabbed by all these gang members. the individual yes of this was intended to be sent to ms-13 gang leadership in el salvador confirm that this green lit murder had been carried out. tragically, ms-13 targets and preys upon their own community. on young people who may not have much of a family structure around them. sadly, these children and young ople were actually fleeing ms-13 in their own countries
only to come here and then be targeted. there was one case that fortunately the northern virginia gang task force was able to intercept, but a brother was trying to enlist his own brother to join the ms-13 gang. when he refused to, he put a hit out on him. fortunately, the gang task force was able to stop that. allow this to stand. mr. speaker, the northern virginia regional task force is battling this problem in our region, but they still need more resources. in our appropriations process we have directed more resources for our regional task forces. i have personally talked to the mr. speaker, the northern virginia regional task force is battling this problem in our egion, but deputy attorney general who is very family with this ms-13 problem having been a u.s. attorney in the maryland region. our regional task force is comprised of 13 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies anti-task force has a three-pronged approach, education, intervention and prevention, and enforcement. we need to provide support on
all three of these fronts. i witnessed firsthand the deputy exhausting work that of the task force, the technology they utilize on the streets that was able to immediately identify just with fingerprints the background of this gang member they were able to arrest. the detailed knowledge they have of our communities and our neighborhoods. the relationships, the positive relationships they have with the people in these communities. the very people being victimized. and the challenges they face with this problem that has returned to our area. that is why i sponsored h.r. 3697, the criminal alien gang member removal act, with my olleagues so it will provide additional tools to law enforcement. it len sure that when i.c.e. positively identifies a known alien gang member, they may additional tools to act immediately. this legislation identifies gang membership and participation in gang activity as grounds for removalability. we don't have to wait until these brutal killers wield
their machetes or leave another body on a children's playground. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentlelady has -- mr. labrador: i yield an additional minute. mrs. comstock:00 thank you. this is marked improvement over durnt law where i.c.e. must wait for specific convictions before removal proceedings can commit. the bill reserves as my colleague has already identified, all the due process and appellate rights afforded to any alien facing deportation. an immigration judge must be convinced the evidence and record sports the finding. i encourage support of this legislation today which will strengthen and enforce our laws against known violent gang members. i also will work -- continue to work with my colleagues on other matters such as the bill i introduced earlier this summer to provide additional resources to our regional gang task forces for their education, intervention, and enforcement efforts. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentlelady has
expired. the gentlewoman from california is recognized. ms. lofgren: mr. speaker, i am pleased to yield four minutes to my colleague on the judiciary committee, the gentleman from new york, mr. nadler. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is ecognized. nadler: mr. speaker, it has been said about this body that if you invent a nice enough title for a bill it doesn't matter what you write in the bill because alt people know is what the title is. this bill is nadler: mr. speake been said about this body that if you invent a nice enough a g that. who is in favor of criminal alien gangs? no one. received no has committee consideration in which the questions could have been asked and the answers given to make sure that the bill would do what its sponsors say it does. but this wouldn't -- but this bill -- but this legislation wouldn't provide a decent protections against gang violence. it would shred due process protectses and allow deportation of innocent immigrants based on the
flimsiest of evidence. star ld establish a chamber like process for designating criminal gangs that would provide virtually no opportunity for them to contest such a designation. once a group is star designated as a gang, an immigrant who is determined to be a member of that gang, determined under undefined procedures and standards, would be almost assured of being deported and subject to mandatory detention while awaiting removal. the procedures under this bill would be designated as a laugha not have such deadly consequences for so many innocent people. suppose there is some people in my neighborhood that i think are up to no good. maybe i have good evidence they are committing crimes or maybe i just don't like them. either way, i submit a tip to homeland security that the group is engaging in activity qualifies as a criminal gang under this bill. then qualifies as a criminal gang under this bill. then based on undefined and unknown procedures, d.h.s. can designate that group as a criminal gang. would amass
some sort of administrative record which is also completely undefined in the bill, but we know it can include secret evidence. no notice would be given to the group that it is under review, and no opportunity would be given to present evidence contesting the designation. no he kulpa torrey in doing so, it evidence. after designation there is a process for judicial review, unless the group has of scouring the federal register t. would have no idea it is-t has been labeled a gang and needs to go to court in 30 days. somehow the group does learn of the designation, it is-t has just po days to contest it and only in the federal court of appeals in washington, d.c. that review, however, would be based entirely on the administrative record amassed by the government. the group would have no opportunity to commit evidence o rebut the designation, which renders the process meaningless. that is not due process under the constitution. that is the sort of stacked process you would expect in a banana republic or russia. it gets worse. under this bill, any alien is deportable if he or she is or has been a member of a
designated gang or participated in the gang's activities knowing it would further would illegal activity. who determines a person is a member after gang? by what procedure? what form or what court, using what standard? the bill given the goodlatte amendment does not say. a person need not have been convicted or charged with a crime to be deportable under this bill. and even when they are in removal proceedings, they would not be permitted to challenge the gang designation that landed them in those proceedings. thus we'll have people deported on a basis of unfair and secret process with no notice and no meaningful opportunity to contest the basis for the deportation. that turns due process completely on its head. keeping out members of ms-13 and other deadly gangs is a worthy goal, but this bill would not do that. it would have disastrous consequences for thousands of people each year who may or may not be members of a gang, may or may not have evidence against them, and be caught up in its procedures.
mr. speaker, just last week president trump upended the lives of 800,000 dreamers who of face the possibility being draggedway from the only country they know. our highest priority should be providing these young undocumented americans the legal status they need to serve our nation and be productive members of their communities. i notice that the speaker has said that while he supports relief for the dreamers, that bill has to go through committee. why didn't this bill have to go through committee? instead the republican majority seeks to distract us from the plight of the dreamers by returning to its deportation agenda based on the fear i have immigrants. this bill brings shame upon this house and due process and fundamental fairness. i urge my colleagues to reject this unconstitutional and unconscionable legislation and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from idaho is recognized. mr. labrador: mr. chairman, i know we spend a lot of time in committee talking about a loft different issues, the gentleman forgets we had three whole days
of hearings on the davis-oliver act which this bill was included in. and many arguments were made against the davis ol-i ever act. most of the arguments being made today were not made against this part -- portion of the act. i recognize the gentleman from new york. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized. how much? mr. labrador: four minutes. >> mr. speaker, i thank the gentleman from idaho for yielding. i certainly commend mrs. comstock for the outstanding job these done on this. mr. king: i stand here in strong support of this bill. it is absolutely essential that this congress do everything it can to eradicate and destroy ms-13. it has turned my district into killing fields. in the last year and a half, 17 innocent young people have been slaughtered with machetes and knives by ms-13. these are all young people and these are children of legal and illegal immigrants, documented, undocumented. this is the immigrant community that's being turned into a
chamber of horrors by ms-13. some afraid to go to school. parents afraid to let their kids out at night. 270 arrests in the last year alone. ms-13 is terrorizing communities in my district within 15, 20 minutes of my home. i'm proud that this bill has en endorsed by the sergeants benevolence association. nypd . when i talk about 17 murders, it's exactly one year ago this week that two young teenage girls, both constituents of mine, were found slaughtered. their bodies desecrated, mutilated, torn apart by ms-13 but they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. no gang connections. nothing whatsoever. this is something which is required extensive coordination, suffolk county police department, i.c.e., h.s.i., homeland security, f.b.i., task forces, u.s. attorney's office, all working around the clock to try to
eradicate this evil. more has to be done. that's what this bill is about. we cannot allow gang members taking advantage of loopholes in the immigration laws . to me nothing could be more shameful for us not to do our job. nothing would be more violent constitution to protect from all enemies foreign and domestic for us not to pass legislation such as this. essential. lutely this isn't theoretical, hypothetical, for those concerned about immigrants, those concerned about daca, i support daca, those concerned about who supported want the helpless in our society, how could you take any action which would prevent us from going after ms-13 in it's a violent, vicious gang f we don't stand together as one f. we continue to make a hypothetical arguments of parade of horblets, we're subjecting and putting more young people, innocent young people, documented and undocumented, in the line of fire, putting them into the killing fields. applaud the president, attorney
general, i also support the democratic leaders in suffolk county, all of whom have come together in a bipartisan effort to stamm many out ms-13. we must do more. this bill is major step in that direction. i'm proud to support it. oud mr. goodlatte, mr. brador, mrs. comstock in doing this. this isn't make believe. this isn't something we dream b this is going bad day after day after day in my district and other districks. these are animals. they need to be eradicate interested our society. this bill is major step in that direction. i stand in strong support for the bill and urge adoption. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york yields back. the gentlewoman from california is recognized. ms. lofgren: this bill was undeed part of the davis-oliver act which did go through the judiciary committee, but that bill was over 200 pages long. it had many, many problems. was impossible to address this. we would have been there for a
month if we had gone through line by line. if it was perfect chairman goodlatte would not have his amendment to remove the reason to believe standard that was in the bill that was part of the davis-oliver act. i would at this point yield four minutes to the gentlelady from texas, my colleague on the judiciary committee, about this bill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from texas is recognized for four minutes. ms. jackson lee: i thank the gentlelady and thank her for her leadership. mr. speaker, this bill is as much a criminal justice or injustice bill as it is immigration. certainly as the ranking member on the criminal justice a committee, i am both believer in the dangers of ms-13 as many of my colleagues are. i offer concern and recognition of their violence.
that is why this bill should be defeated, because something as crucial as this does not need to be litigated in the courts. you make a bill with such insufferable frailts constitutionally -- frailities constitutionally without bipartisanship, that doesn't set a legal standard of what is the definition or the understanding of a criminal gang. this is done in consultation with the attorney general, who is an opponent of any form of immigration, legal or undocumented, consulting with the homeland security secretary of which i am a member of that committee, and the dominant factor will be the attorney general talking to the homeland security secretary about criminal elements. who do you think will prevail?
how many will be swept up in his expansive, nonorganized, nonorderly, nondue process legislation? the frailities of this bill is a very number, if you will, five. five persons can be called a criminal gang. mothers and fathers, listen. innocent behavior of young people tattooed or having friends could be called a criminal gang. yes. individuals who have status could be deported. an ongoing group, club organizations or associations. they've expanded this. maybe high school kids who may gather to smoke marijuana. maybe this would cover sanctuary cities like churches that aid undocumented immigrants. all we're asking is let us work together to get a bill that fights ms-13, not fights
innocent people. the bill defines criminal gang a group that's been designated as a criminal gang, as i said by the d.h.s. secretary, in consultation with the attorney general. it is unwise and irresponsible to not have the kind of organized framework. that happens from not having committee hearings and markups. it happens when you don't engage police officers in a wide bred from -- breath from many different aspects. i'm disappointed this bill didn't have the subcommittee on crime have input. and that would have happened if we had a hearing in the immigration subcommittee, hearing in the full committee, as i mentioned. it lacks a constitutional construct. we are headed down a terribly unsophisticated road. according to the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, 48,000
juvenile offenders were held in residential facilities. we don't need to add more, but here's the outcome. they are not just held, they are deported. and, again, i emphasize to my colleagues, that the ages could be very young because there are no firewall dealing with the ages that might be swept up in this wide sweep of those who deserve to be responded to in a way that is not this bill. this bill pretends to be wrapping up and rounding up bad actors that are undocumented immigrants. that's the big calling card. i would ask that, mr. speaker, that my colleagues vote against this bill. i ask to submit into the record fast check immigration doesn't ing crime into the u.s. by "pbs news hour" and opposing
this in particular, i'd like to add this to the leadership conference on civil rights and american immigration lawyers, american immigration lawyers association that clearly says this is not a bill against crime. it's a deportation bill. save our children, mr. speaker. let's do something different and defeat the underlying bill. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, those letters will be placed in the record. the time of the gentlelady has expired. the gentleman from idaho is recognized. mr. labrador: i agree we should save our children and we need to start deporting some criminal gang members. i yield five minutes to the chairman of the entire committee, the gentleman from virginia. the speaker pro tempore: chairman goodlatte is recognized for five minutes. mr. goodlatte: mr. speaker, i thank the gentleman from idaho and our chair of our subcommittee for yielding. i rise today in strong support of h.r. 3697, the criminal alien gang removal -- member removal act. transnational criminal gangs have declared war on the united
states. their tactics of intimidation and unspeakable mutilation and killing have permeated most every part of our country, including multiple instances in my own district. most recently, in bedford county, virginia, a young man was killed by alien members of ms-13. the department of homeland security reports an ever-growing number of criminal aliens joining international gangs such as ms-13 which alone has over 10,000 members within our borders. whether these criminals came to this country illegally as unaccompanied minors, adults or have valid visas or even green cards, it's time to send the message this behavior will simply not be tolerated. yet, current immigration law includes no provision allowing for the removal of criminal gang members based on their membership in dangerous gangs or participation in gang activities. the result is unconscionable. i.c.e. must sit on the
sidelines and wait for known gang members to be arrested and convicted of specific offenses before removal proceedings may commence. of course, with many victims and witnesses too petrified of retaliation against them and their families to cooperate with police, many gang members are never convicted of their crimes. this legislation provides a crucial tool so that i.c.e. can seek to remove alien gang members before they are able to extort businesses and murder innocent americans. in addition, this bill allows the secretary of homeland security to designate organizations as criminal gangs, utilizing the same transparent procedures used by the secretary of state to designate foreign terrorist organizations. finally, the bill ensures that criminal alien gang members cannot receive asylum and be released back onto our streets able to resume their criminal activities while being eligible
for a vast array of federal benefits. eradicating the death grip that transnational criminal alien gangs hold over many of our communities, especially immigrant communities, is an important piece of immigration reform. i am pleased that this bill, which stems from legislation that the house has approved in the past and which has been approved by the judiciary committee in multiple congresses, is being considered today. now, i want to address the allegation that this bill targets priests and nuns and garage band members. it is preposterous. this bill deliberately includes the long standing federal criminal offenses for alien smuggling as predicates for criminal gang activity. coyotes and other criminal gangs make billions of dollars and put countless lives at risk through their alien smuggling activities. as former u.s. attorney david
iglesias who emigrated to the united states from latin america as a child said, quote, smuggling aliens across our border is a dangerous business. all too often people entrust their lives to smugglers only to die in the broiling desert or suffocate in the back of locked, airless trucks while the smugglers profit. these smuggling rings, which facilitate illegal entry into the united states and mercilessly exploit human beings for money, are a danger to immigrants and a threat to our national security. the democrats are engaging in a huge amount of on fisscation in the past the house passed legislation that would have strengthened federal alien smuggling laws, would have the effect of putting priests and nuns at risk of prosecution. the democrats' clear implication was these problems didn't exist under then current law which remains current law. let me quote, democrat members
of the house judiciary committee, including john conyers, jerry nadler, zoe lofgren, sheila jackson lee, said the bill goes far beyond increasing penalties among alien smuggling and jeopardizes the well-being of millions of americans, faith institutions, others who live and work with undocumented immigrants. former speaker pelosi, current minority leader, stated, under the guise of an expansive definition of smuggling, the bill would make criminals out of catholic priests and nuns, ministers, rabbis, and social service workers who provide assistance and ax of charity to those in -- acts of charity to those in need. the democrats can't have it both ways. they can't argue we can't change current law because that would result putting priests and nuns at risk and argue the next day without any evidence current law already puts them at risk. to add to the hypocrisy, the house democrats supported an amendment which passed by voice
vote. the speaker pro tempore: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. labrador: i yield the gentleman an additional two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for an additional two minutes. mr. goodlatte: to add -- so to add to the controversy, the house democrats supported an amendment which passed by voice vote to add human smuggling to the list of predicate acts under the federal money laundering statute. the department of justice and the immigration and customs enforcement agency simply do not target clergy and others who do not make distinctions based on immigration status when serving those in spiritual or material need. the use of such law is against religious organizations and other humanitarian groups has been practically nonexistent. of course, as in the sanctuary movement in the 1980's when religious organizations engaged in the actual smuggling of illegal aliens in the united states they would be subject to prosecution, just as anyone else would, but this bill is based upon the same precedence
that's already been passed through this house by voice vote dealing with human smuggling. it's time to apply the same standard to alien gang members who are perpetrating violence, not just on people traveling to the united states, as in the case of human smuggling, but on the citizens of virtually every state in the union. the murders that have been outlined by mr. king from new york, by mrs. comstock of virginia, by mr. labrador of idaho and others are taking place all across the country because we simply are not removing from this country as expeditiously as possible members of gangs like ms-13. it's time to get about doing that and this bill does just that. i want to commend representative barbara comstock, representative peter king, and the chairman of our immigration and border security subcommittee, representative
raul labrador, for their work on this important bill and i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 3697 and i yield back the balance of my time. . the speaker pro tempore: the recognizes the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: madam speaker, i would ask unanimous consent to an analysis record of the law harboring prepared by the catholic legal immigration network. in this legal analysis by the catholics it does point out religious persons have been ana of the law harboring prepared prosecuted and convicted for providing sanctuary. opinions may differ on whether that's a good idea or bad idea, but to say that that's an ms-13 activity i think we would all agree, that's crazy. that's what this bill would do. would like now to yield to a freshman member of the house, we're so fortunate to have congresswoman val demings from
florida. just last year she was on the frontline in the fight against gangs as the chief of police. i yield to her. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentlelady from florida. mrs. demings: thank you so much, madam speaker. thank you so much for yielding to me. i spent 27 years as a law enforcement officer. le i have the honor of working my way up throughout ranks to become the chief of police. i co-chaired an anti-gang task force for the state of florida. as chief i launched an all-out war against violent crime. and through the hard work of a lot of good men and women, we were able to reduce violent crime by 40%. so do i take gang activity very seriously? you better believe i do. and i have the record to prove
that. but the spirit, the spirit of new 3697 with this broad what constitutes a gang has nothing based on my experience on the ground, has nothing to do with curtailing gang activity. there is no way i would vote for this law. as a former law enforcement officer who has been there on the frontlines, because this law targets a group of people based on their status and does not target criminal activity. that's what law enforcement
officers do. i invite my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because we do, we all do, we take gang activity seriously. i heard the question earlier, who would favor gangs? who really would favor gangs? so i invite my colleagues on this side to join me in continuing our aggressive efforts to target criminal behavior. because that's really what we want to stop. criminal behavior and not profile or target people. because that is just not who we're. thank you so much, madam speaker. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields. the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho. mr. labrador: we reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: may i ask whether there are additional speakers?
mr. labrador: not at this point. ms. lofgren: thank you very much. i yield myself such time as i may consume. i would like to first ask unanimous consent to put into the record the statement of john conyers, our ranking member. the speaker pro tempore: that will be covered by general leave. ms. lofgren: i want to make a couple of closing comments on this bill. i think it's a given that every member, i think every single ember of this body wants to do something about gangs. i have gangs in my district. i think i heard mr. king speak so passionately about the problem in his district. it's a pervasive problem. the concern is this bill goes far beyond targeting those gangs. and that's why we, with great reluctance, have to say we
can't do this. we can't do this. because if we wanted to target just the gangs, we wouldn't ave included language that would allow charges people who are not gang members as gang members. we wouldn't have included of sions that the victims gangs would be denied asylum. the bill in section 2-f denies individuals who are suspected of of gangs would alleged gang member opportunity to apply for asylum. here's the problem. in certain parts of central america, you have -- you have rampant gang activity. women and girls are terribly abused. they are beaten. they are turned into sex slaves. they are tattooed. they are -- and they escape. and if that young girl who has
been the victim of that violence from gangs comes, she's got the tattoos, the brand that that gang put on her. and if she, as a consequence, is reasonably suspected of being a member of the gang, she get asylum. that's not what we want in the fight of the -- against ms-13. the bill is not drafted adequately. get asylum. that's would like at this point to reserve the balance of my time as i understand mr. labrador has an additional speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves her time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho. mr. labrador: thank you. i recognize now the gentleman from texas for two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for two minutes. >> i want to thank my colleague, mr. speaker. ms-13 gang members
brutally murdered a 14-year-old boy from texas with a machete. just this year two ms-13 gang members laughed and waved at the cameras as they faced trial in a houston courtroom for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of young girls. mr. arlingeton: these are two examples that reflect the horrific and gruesome reality what gangs across this country are capable of. there are as many as 100,000 gang members in my home state of texas. several of which are linked to mexican cartels who help them distribute drugs, traffic people and weapons. nearly 60% have identified prison gang members in texas are serving sentences for violent crimes, including homicide, robbery, and assault. ms-13 is one of the most dangerous gangs in our state ith almost 500 members throughout texas. they have been described by the houston police chief as a transnational terrorist organization. quote, the worst of the worst and a cancer.
it's state and local law enforcement officers like him, gang forces on the frontlines putting their own lives in danger to deal with these criminals. today i rise in support of mrs. comstock's bill which will do what we should have been doing a long time ago, and that's giving local entities the ability to expeditiously deport who are here legally -- illegally and ensure they never are able to come back to the united states. our first job is to keep americans safe. h.r. 3697 certainly improves the prospects of that. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from california. ms. lofgren: may i quine -- inquire how much time remains on each side? the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady who are from califor six minutes. the gentleman from idaho has 5 1/2. ms. lofgren: i would like to make just a few additional
comments then. it has been mentioned that activities rrible being undertaken by gang members. and i don't think there's any dispute in this body about that. our obligation is to craft bills that will allow for remedies for that problem. in a specific and targeted and effective way. and i think this bill falls far hort in that regard. we had mentioned earlier the great concern that has been expressed to us by religious people across the united states about the provisions relative to harboring. worker s on a religious visa who help provide sanctuary for an undocumented person is a gang under this bill. they are not ms-13. we could craft a measure that
avoids that outcome while still going after ms-13. we didn't do that. for one thing. we didn't actually sit down to work s of the aisle together to reason together, to make that happen. i would like to note in terms of the smuggling issue. that's a big problem. we have unanimous agreement on the smuggling issue. we have worked together with the wilbur force act and other acts in a bipartisan way to deal with that. but we didn't bifurcate smuggling from harboring in this bill. that's why the nuns and the catholic bishops have contacted us asking us not to support this bill. i would like to note just le the first obligation that we have is to keep america safe. and we fail to do that if we
craft language that really is just part of the broad deportation agenda under the guise of an anti-gang bill. and there's great concern that that is what has happened here. one of the elements that is referenced in -- as a predicate for gang activity, the five people who are working together, is undocumented -- documents that are false. a lot of people are highly agitated when undocumented people have false documents. opinions differ. almost every undocumented person in the united states who works has a fake i.d. because get a job. ey can't you can agree with that. you can think it's terrible. you think maybe it's not so terrible. i think most of us would agree it's not ms-13. such uld we craft this in
a way to treat that activity as an ms-13 activity? and to blow up all of the procedures that we have in place that makes sure that justice is done. i think -- i hope that members will vote against this bill despite the name, it goes far beyond attacking gangs. into allowing for the deportation of religious into people and other have done nothing related to gang activity. i hope that if this bill is defeated that we can sit down, as we often have, on various items, we sit down and work collaboratively on patten reform issues, other issues -- patent reform issues, other issues. i hope if this bill is defeated we'll take the opportunity to do that. i for one pledge my best
efforts to come up with a measure that is targeted and effective. this bill, unfortunately, is not. with that i yield back the alance of my time. the chair: the gentlelady yields. the chair recognizes the gentleman from idaho. mr. labrador: thank you, madam speaker. apparently i keep hearing again and again there is no dispute he gentlelady about ongoing violence or gang violence in the united states. but what has been clear from today's argument is that our friends on the other side, they just don't want to do anything about it. i hope it's something the american people are listening to, because as we have debates over the next few months about what we should be doing with regard to immigration, i hope everyone understands that every time we try to do something about enforcement of immigration laws, about stopping gang violence, about stopping illegal immigration in
the united states it's very difficult to get agreement on the other side. criminal alien gang members are wreaking havoc in this country. without stronger tools to specifically target those aliens that terrorize our streets, gangs will continue to grow in numbers and in strength. the time has come to take action and to provide a path to deportation to those that so unabashedly seek to destroy our society. i.c.e. has found that, quote, membership of these violent transnational gangs is surprised largely of foreign-born nationals, closed quote. often bearing the brunt of these gang violence are the very immigrant communities that the other side claims they want to protect. the criminal alien gang member removal act takes a tough approach, i agree with that. those gang members who have successfully evaded prosecution through witness intimidation, employing the tactics of fear and violence will now be within
i.c.e.'s reach. the new grounds of removability provided by h.r. 3697 will get criminal gang members off of our streets. i.c.e.'s recent operation new dawn resulted in almost 1,100 arrests of gang members. had h.r. 3697 had been enacted prior, that number would have almost certainly increased. this bill is only starting the removal process, however. make no mistake -- and there was a lot of talk today about this. immigration proceedings do not equate to deportation. the government must prove its case and provide evidence to convince an immigration judge that gang-related activity occurred. as a former private immigration attorney, i've seen this process in action and it does work. i.c.e. will not use this new won't as pretext as it be sustained by an immigration judge without sufficient evidence. the time for this bill is long
overdue, and we cannot afford to be distracted by extreme hypotheticals and issues not germane to what we're discussing today. this bill was introduced to target criminal gangs, as that term is commonly understood, and that is what it will do once enacted. i urge my colleagues to vote -- there is no place in our country for criminal alien gang members. by removing them from our streets, h.r. 3697 will help make our communities safer. i urge my colleagues to support the bill, and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: all time for debate has expired. pursuant to house resolution 513, the previous question is ordered on the bill, as amended. the question is on engrossment and third reading of the bill. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. third reading. the clerk: a bill to amend the immigration and nationality act with respect to aliens associated with criminal gangs, and for other purposes.
the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia seek recognition? >> madam speaker, i have a motion to recommit at the desk. the speaker pro tempore: is the gentleman opposed to the bill? >> i am opposed. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman qualifies. the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: about buyer of virginia moves to recommit the bill h.r. 3697 to the committee on the judiciary with instructions to report the same back to the house forthwith with the following amendment. add at the end of the bill the following -- section, protecting innocent religious workers from deportation. nothing in this act or the amendments made by this act may be construed to offer the -- authorize the deportation taken on behalf of a religious organization whose primary purpose is the provision of humanitarian assistance or aid. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from virginia is recognized for five minutes in support of his motion. mr. beyer: thank you, madam speaker. this is the final amendment to the bill which will not kill the bill or send it back doe. if adopted, the bill -- back to
committee. if adopted, the bill will move to vote. the sponsor of this bill, mrs. comstock, and i both represent northern virginia and she and i both want to eliminate gang violence. ms-13 is a menace to society, and i endorse the goal of destroying it through legal means. this bill wouldn't do that. this bill would promote widespread racial profiling. it will violate first amendment protections. it will expand mandatory detention of immigrants. it will raise serious constitutional questions and reveal of certain groups, and it bars humanitarian relief for individuals in violation of international treaties. gang, violence and ms-13, i take seriously. the young man mrs. comstock referred to found dead in a park in my city of alexandria was found by a dear family friend. but we can do this in a bill that doesn't promote racial profiling or violate the constitution.
so in this motion to recommit, we offer language to get at one of the most glaring flaws in this bill, that it can go after humanitarian workers. the criminal alien gang member removal act creates an overly broad definition of a criminal gang. allowing d.h.s. to essentially designate any individual as a gang member. as written it could cover a wide range of organizations, ranging from churches to fraternities to political groups. this will allow i.c.e. to target people who may or may not appear to be in a gang and charge all those who seem in any way connected to individual members of a gang. religious workers who are engaged in immigration ministry can be subject to prosecution. it is not smuggling in airless trucks. in my district, if a number of faith communities who provide for the unemployed, homeless, those without language already i.c.e. swept up half a dozen men as they exited a church service. under this bill, the pastor could be next. if a nun through her work
interacts with a potential gang member she, by the context of this bill, could be a gang member. it's not actually that the catholic bush ops and nuns have written to oppose this bill. the harboring provisions are so sweeping, the religious workers who provide shelter, transportation or support to undocumented immigrants can be find liable of criminal activity. this is not transportation across the u.s. border. this is transportation to work or to english lesson classes. it's incredibly concerning it would subject people who have never committed a crime, never been arrested, never been indicted to deportation and it would apply retroactively. indeed, mere suspicion of involvement in harboring could classify individuals as gang members. so it's very obvious here that humanitarian exemption is needed, but that's not the only concern with this bill language. the overly broad definition would empower immigrant authorities to conduct dragnet sweeps of latino communities and other communities of color. media reports make it clear that law enforcement has
recently relied on questionable and unrelyable evidence to assert that latino individuals are gang members, including wearing certain kinds of a zip code otling on a class notebook. and people living in neighborhoods known to suffer gang activity. this expansive language could and will sweep up people who have committed no criminal activity whatsoever. as a representative of virginia, a state with a long and troubled history with race, i think we need to be very careful before we implement policies that allow for structural racism. this bill has many more flaws with the general debate concerned, but i want to be clear. before we pass this bill and start locking up nuns and priests and other religious workers, we should not continue this one-dimensional conversation on immigration policy. we cannot focus only on enforcement and a mass deportation agenda. it doesn't fix our immigration
system. we got to work on comprehensive immigration reform. we begin with the president's recent decision to eliminate daca and put congress on the clock. we should be acting today to protect our dreamers. 800,000 young immigrants, not members of ms-13, their lives depend on it. i urge my colleagues to vote for this motion to recommit, and i yield back, madam speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back his time. for what purpose does the gentlelady from virginia seek recognition? mrs. comstock: i rise in opposition to the motion to recommit. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for five minutes. mrs. comstock: i thank you, madam speaker. in 2015, on an alexandria playground, mr. beyer's district, eight miles from this capitol, the body of a 24-year-old man was left nearly decapitated in a grizzly murder by one of the thousands of ms-13 gang members in our country. i should also mention that victim was also an ms-13 gang member. this very capitol region has the second highest number of ms-13 gang members.
criminal alien gang members are growing in numbers in our region around the country and wreaking havoc. in my district and in this very region. without stronger tools to specifically target those aliens, those specific aliens, this bill targets them, that terrorize our streets, gangs like ms-13 will then continue to grow in numbers in strength if we aren't targeting them. the time is come to take action and provide a path for deportation for violent criminal gang members. i.c.e. has found that membership of these violent transnational gangs is comprised largely of foreign-born nationals. often bearing the brunt of these gangs, violence -- vy gang violence, are the immigrant communities which they reside. they have target their own communities. we've seen that in my district and that's why it's so troubling. the act will address this. those gang members who successfully evaded prosecution through fear tactics will now
been within i.c.e.'s reach. this bill will help get criminal gang members off our streets. i.c.e.'s recent operation new dawn has resulted in almost 1,100 arrests of gang members. had this bill been enacted prior, that number could have increased. this bill is only starting the removal process, however. make no mistake, regular immigration proceedings will still apply. the government must prove its case and provide evidence to convince an immigration judge. this bill preserves all due process and aplate rights afforded to any -- appealate rights afforded to any alien. the bill is long overdue. it was introduced to target criminal gangs, as that term is commonly understood, and that is what it will do once it's enacted. i urge my colleagues to vote down this motion to recommit, to vote for the base bill h.r. 3697 and to provide i.c.e. with the tools it needs to keep
dangerous criminal alien gang members off our streets, out of our c >> sundays, a series of interviews with a prominent auto journalist. frank johnston, about his photos and career. out,en they brought oswald he was within three feet of me ruby, who-- when jack left out from behind me and went between bob jackson and i.
we were all thrown to the floor. it must have been 100 police in the basement. >> watch our photojournalist interviews on american history tv on c-span3. >> tonight on c-span, house minority leader nancy pelosi on her meeting with the president on daca. ryan gives an update on legislation, including daca. that is followed by president trump's trip to florida to view hurricane damage. weekly briefing, nancy president trump agreed to move forward with legislation