This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) that would prohibit the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from using funds provided by a Homeland Security bill to release on bond or parole undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Homeland Security Department programs.
Cravaack urged support for his amendment: “…ICE has allowed criminal illegal aliens who are waiting for a deportation hearing to leave Federal detention facilities and reenter the general public if the criminal illegal alien is fitted with a GPS tracking device or regularly checks in with their ICE supervisor. This is very troubling to me…In August, 2010, ICE's policy of releasing dangerous criminal aliens proved deadly…. illegal alien Carlos Montano was sentenced to over 1 year in jail for his second DWI and was released from ICE custody wearing only a GPS tracking device…. Tragically, on August 1, Montano got drunk, got behind a wheel, and collided head on with a vehicle carrying three nuns. This head-on collision killed 66-year-old Sister Jeanette Mosier of Virginia.”
No Democrats spoke in opposition to this amendment. Progressives, however, had long criticized such “mandatory detention” policies on civil liberties grounds--arguing that undocumented immigrants could be detained indefinitely, no matter how minor the crime that was committed. In addition, some immigrants were detained for crimes committed many years prior to their detention. Refugee Council USA argued that under mandatory detention, “immigrants… are subject to double jeopardy—they have already paid their dues and yet are subjected to detention. Individuals can be detained for minor crimes committed in their youth.”
The American Civil Liberties Union had argued: “The Constitution guarantees every person a day in court — not just U.S. citizens — but immigrants who are awaiting a determination on their immigration status are often denied this basic due process protection. Over the last several years, the use of detention as an immigration enforcement strategy has increased exponentially, and immigrants, including lawful permanent residents and asylum seekers, have been detained for prolonged periods of time without any finding that they are either a danger to society or a flight risk. The government is spending millions of dollars locking up people whose detentions serve no purpose. In addition to being cruel and unnecessary, prolonged immigration detention makes it nearly impossible for individuals to fight their cases — including those with legitimate claims for legal status in the U.S.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 289-131. All 234 Republicans present and 55 Democrats voted “yea.” 131 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would prohibit the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement from using funds provided by a Homeland Security bill to release on bond or parole undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate.