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POLITICS: House Republicans move to use DHS funding bill to ramp up immigration enforcement, hit sanctuary cities

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Some Republicans in the House are using a Homeland Security appropriations bill to push for sweeping amendments that would overhaul immigration enforcement, including hitting sanctuary cities, in response to the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border.

While much of the energy on Capitol Hill is geared toward avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month, Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, has introduced a slew of amendments to the appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Homeland Security for the upcoming fiscal year.

The vast majority of those amendments are focused on immigration and border security.

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U.S. military personnel keep watch as asylum seekers are transferred via city bus from a Port Authority bus terminal to housing facilities in the Bronx and Queens on May 15, 2023, in New York City. (John Lamparski / Getty Images)

They include one that would bar funding for the processing of asylum claims from illegal immigrants who have passed through a prior country — a more intense version of the Biden administration’s efforts to limit asylum claims to those who have crossed illegally and failed to claim asylum in a country through which they have already passed.

Another amendment would adopt legislation to prioritize the removal of certain illegal immigrants, another would bar money from being made available for the release of illegal immigrants into the interior. One amendment would block money from being used for migrant transports in the interior without 72-hour notifications to the state and local officials of the destination and notification on the DHS website — tapping into concerns about late-night migrant flights.

Nehls wants to include language that would bar federal funding from going to “sanctuary” cities — jurisdictions that block cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Conservatives say sanctuary policies in New York City and elsewhere encourage migrants to cross border.

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, introduced a slew of amendments to the DHS appropriations bill. (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images / File)

The lawmaker wants to increase the number of ICE detention beds back to the numbers seen during the Trump administration, which have decreased under the Biden administration. Another amendment would require DHS to keep a minimum of 14,000 enforcement officers or else lose funding.

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In a statement to Fox News Digital, Nehls said that Republicans had been given the majority “for a reason” and said they have an obligation to hold the administration accountable.

“This starts with stopping the flow of illegal aliens burdening communities, combating human trafficking, and fighting the influx of fentanyl and illicit drugs poisoning our communities,” he said.

He also pointed to separate amendments by lawmakers to limit Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ salary to $1.

“Taxpayer dollars should be used to secure our nation, not further spread the consequences of an open border. I was sent to Congress to fight for Texas, and I speak for them when I say they are sick and damn tired of empty promises,” he said. “No security, no funding.”

Nehls’ amendments in particular got the support of hawkish groups. RJ Hauman, president of the National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE) who also serves as a visiting adviser at the Heritage Foundation, said Nehls is making the appropriation bill stronger.

“His amendments address asylum abuse, provide more detention beds and ICE agents, make sure detention centers remain fully operational, and stop taxpayer dollars from flowing to sanctuary cities,” he told Fox News Digital. “Every Republican — from leadership to rank and file — should unite behind what their border state colleague is seeking to do.”

Other amendments being submitted include an amendment from Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., to bar money from being used for programs that use humanitarian parole to release migrants into the interior.

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It marks the latest House Republican effort to push back against the agenda of the Biden administration on immigration. Some Republicans have pushed for Mayorkas’ impeachment or have suggested defunding the agency.

Meanwhile, Republicans have passed their own legislation — the Secure the Border Act — which would restrict the use of parole to release migrants, limit the use of the CBP One app, increase Border Patrol agent numbers and restart border wall construction.

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The Biden administration has pushed back against Republican criticism, calling on Congress to approve more funding and to pass comprehensive immigration reform — including a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. It has also said its policies of expanding migrant parole pathways and renewing what it says are consequences for illegal entry — while pursuing more funding — are working, given the “broken” system in which the agency says it is working.

“Congress should work with us to keep our country safe, build on the progress DHS is making, and deliver desperately needed reforms for our broken immigration system that only legislation can fix,” a spokesperson told Fox this week.





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