(Washington, DC) In April of this year the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testified to members of congress that she had a “fundamental disagreement” with those who thought her agency’s federal employees should follow federal law above her agency’s internal directives. Since then, the Iowa Congressman she adamantly proclaimed her belief to has been trying to get the Director, Sarah Saldaña, to clarify her statement. But Director Saldaña, who is tasked with leading the nation’s largest law enforcement investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, refuses to answer the Iowa Congressman, David Young, or any other Member of Congress.
Members of the subcommittee, led by Young, sent Director Saldaña a letter asking her to clarify her position and, because of her role, that of the Obama Administration. To date, neither Saldaña nor her agency has answered Congress.
“The question ‘do you as a federal law enforcement agency actually follow federal law?’ seems simple enough,” noted Congressman Young. “Director Saldaña’s non-answer is troubling, because the continued silence on the opportunity to quickly clarify her remarks indicates either a lack of respect for Congress, pure incompetence in knowing how to respond, or that her words in April were in no way a misstatement of her beliefs or of the policies of this Administration.”
Exercising the oversight and funding authority of Congress, Congressman Young offered an amendment to the annual appropriations bill which funds Director Saldaña’s agency withholding $5 million in funds until an answer is provided to Congress and the American People.
Young continued, “We are elected by the hardworking people of this country to hold our government and its employees accountable. Director Saldaña is violating the trust of the people who pay her salary. That cannot be allowed to stand.”
The bill directs the ICE Director to brief the House Appropriations Committee on the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) within 120 days of enactment. The PEP prohibits ICE agents from targeting most illegal aliens for removal, including most of those who come into contact with state and local police.
Young’s amendment was passed by the committee and was included in the final version of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016. The bill passed the full committee on Tuesday. The bill now awaits debate and consideration by the full U.S. House.
TEXT OF AMENDMENT TO THE FISCAL YEAR 2016 HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS BILL:
Page 11, line 10, after “June 30, 2016:” insert “Provided further, That, of the total amount available under this heading, $5,000,000 shall be withheld from obligation until the Director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement briefs the Committee on efforts to increase the number of communities and law enforcement agencies participating in the Priority Enforcement Program. The briefing will include details as to the jurisdiction and law enforcement agency approached and the level of participation on a by-community basis.”
David Young is the Congressman serving all the people of Iowa’s Third District. He is a member of the Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittees on Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.