Culberson: Enforce Immigration Law or Lose Pay

Rep. John Culberson (R.-Tex.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, will propose legislation to stop the pay of federal bureaucrats who refuse to enforce immigration laws. “I, as an appropriator, will do everything in my power to change federal law so that any federal official who doesn’t enforce immigration law doesn’t get paid,” Culberson told HUMAN EVENTS. “That’s just for starters.” “This has moved to the top of my agenda because of an idiotic town hall meeting conducted by federal law enforcement officials for law-breakers to tell them the law will not be enforced,” said Culberson. “I’m going to personally go over the Houston immigration office with a fine-toothed comb.” On April 26, Joseph Webber, special agent in charge of the Houston office of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), addressed a crowd of several hundred people at a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans. Webber attended the meeting to dispel rumors that ICE was conducting raids on worksites, schools, and churches to round up illegal aliens. Culberson said he would soon meet with officials from ICE, the FBI and the local U.S. attorney’s office. “We have a growing flood of aliens coming over our borders,” Culberson said. “This is a national security concern. We must focus the nation’s attention.” Culberson also cited the costs of illegal immigration. “In Houston, in Harris County,” he said, “it costs $100 million a year.” His position on the Appropriations Committee, Culberson said, gives him leverage. “I know that the only way to get a bureaucrat’s attention is through their money,” he said. ICE needs to send a different message than the one Webber sent, said Culberson. It should be: “If you come here illegally, you’re going to be deported.” Carl Rusnok, director of communications for ICE’s central region, addressed the congressman’s contention that the agency was signaling illegal aliens that it did not intend to enforce the law. “The only two things that we’ve said are that the rumors of mass raids are untrue and that we will continue to enforce immigration law,” said Rusnok. “We’ve been saying that for weeks.” Asked if Webber may have gone further in his comments of April 26, Rusnok said he couldn’t vouch for the specifics of what Webber said at that particular meeting. Asked if Webber promised not to conduct raids in the future, Rusnok replied, “I wasn’t there, but I think that would be extremely unlikely.” Rusnok said the government policy of not raiding illegal alien worksites is not new. “We have not changed our enforcement policy,” he said. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said Webber was just articulating a policy first put in place in 1999. “He didn’t change anything. If you can fault him for anything, it might be tone,” he said. The government backed off worksite enforcement of immigration laws after an uproar from local politicians and congressmen following a successful effort against illegal labor in Nebraska and Iowa meatpacking plants in 1998-99, said Krikorian. ICE’s 2002 statistical yearbook, the latest available, indicates worksite enforcement dropped 80% between 1998 and 2001. Only “about 400” illegal aliens were formally removed from the country due to worksite enforcement in 2002, says the yearbook. Said Culberson: “This issue is a sleeping giant that politicians had better wake up to because voters have had it.”