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It’s time to HALT Representative Lamar Smith

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Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.


Despite being in a position to be a catalyst for immigration reform, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has proposed one of the most egregious overhauls of the American immigration system, Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation Act, "HALT".  The controversial aspects of the bill include ending waivers of inadmissibility, removing cancellation of removal and adjustment of status in spite of potential hardship to a US citizen family member, suspending the Temporary Protected Status program, prohibiting the voluntary departure of immigrants, prohibiting the deferral of deportations, and severely limiting the government's ability to parole a citizen into the United States.  This fails to advance any reform agenda but instead aims at creating chaos and conflict within the existing system.


Representative Smith's legislation is highly politicized as it doesn't seek to make these changes permanent, but rather only limit the Obama's administrations powers in these areas.  The powers that Representative Smith seeks to limit would all be restored on January 22, 2013, the official end of President Obama's current term.  Representative Smith believes that these executive powers "cannot be trusted to the Obama administration."  Representative Smith's measure is partly in response to John Morton's Memo authorizing the use of prosecutorial discretion for ICE Officials in their prosecution of detained immigrants. 


Although Congress has ultimate authority in many immigration matters, Representative Smith's bill would specifically strip this president of many key components of discretionary relief that have been used by presidents of both parties.  Early in his administration, President Bush granted Temporary Protected Status to allow Salvadorians in this country the ability to remain here after a devastating earthquake impacted their country.  Most recently, the Obama Administration has granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in this country following the devastating Haitian earthquake of January 12, 2010.


The New York Times noted on July 12 the recent hypocrisy in Representative Smith's bill when it reported that in 1999, Representative Smith was one of several members of Congress to write a letter to then Attorney General Janet Reno stating that "True Hardship cases calls for the exercise of discretion" and certain deportations have led to "unjustifiable hardship" for families. 


Representative Smith has also ignored the increase in deportation numbers during the Obama administration.  During the Obama administration, ICE has deported annually over 55% more undocumented individuals than the annual averages for the Bush administration. 


This isn't Representative Smith's only bill that fails to forward any proper reform of America's immigration system.  Representative Smith has a separate House Bill that also seeks to have mandatory use of E-Verify.  Although he claims the bill is a "jobs bill", Representative Smith fails to acknowledge that 3.6 million authorized workers would have to spend countless hours navigating through government databases because of problems with E-Verify.  Representative Smith's E-Verify bill will also cost small businesses $2.6 billion. 


Rather than using his position of power in the House Judiciary Committee to work with this administration to champion immigration reform, Representative Smith has shown that when it comes to immigration reform he is the one who needs to be halted.

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