Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism & Illegal Immigration Control Act. The bill claims to increase security at the international border and at ports of entry into the United States. It changes immigration law by making illegal presence in the country a criminal offense, increasing penalties for immigration-related offenses and allowing new grounds for the deportation of immigrants who commit certain crimes.

“I believe in a sound and reasonable immigration policy that strengthens our homeland security,” said Smith. “We need real immigration reform that decreases the number of illegal immigrants entering this country, punishes businesses that hire illegal immigrants and will provide greater security for our borders.  This bill fails to meet that standard. 

Also, the immigration reform bill before the House today is fiscally irresponsible and puts a further strain on our overburdened first responders. The bill would dramatically increase the burden on our legal system by automatically detaining all illegal immigrants and holding them indefinitely. The cost of building new facilities and the needed legal infrastructure surrounding the number of detainees is astronomical.”

Smith goes on to note, “Of even further concern to me is that an amendment was attached to the bill that expands the existing authority for state and local law enforcement personnel to apprehend, detain, remove and transport illegal immigrants in the routine course of their duties. I’m concerned that this added burden will take away from their needed duties to fight crime and keep our streets safe. They have critically important duties to attend to like protecting our communities and fighting meth and should not also be forced to assume the federal government’s responsibility for catching illegal immigrants.”