Will the "Criminal Alien Deportation Enforcement Act" Stall in the Senate?

By Dan Cadman on January 23, 2017

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) has introduced a bill into the House, the "Criminal Alien Deportation Enforcement Act of 2017", that would cut off foreign aid to any country that "den[ies] or unreasonably delay[s] the acceptance of nationals who have been ordered removed from the United States."

One would think it common sense that the United States should not reward other nations when they deliberately throw monkey wrenches into the lawful workings of our deportation processes — but common sense is often in sadly short supply in the nation's capitol.

There is already a law on the books that permits the State Department to withhold visas from countries that impede removals by withholding needed repatriation documents, but in its long existence, that law has been triggered only twice.

This bill is tightly crafted and couches its requirements in terms of "shall" as opposed to "may", which one hopes will ensure governmental action on this front. We have reached the end of eight years of executive obstruction where immigration enforcement processes are concerned, and I'm pleased that Rep. Babin is providing for the possibility that future scofflaw presidents will ignore any inconvenient laws that leave them an out by using language couched in terms of options as opposed to mandates.

But will this bill become law? Time will tell, but there's reason enough to doubt, even with the stars allegedly aligned since the presidency and both chambers of Congress will all be in Republican control. That's because, with the exception of judicial appointments, the Senate has retained the filibuster rule. Practically speaking, this means that virtually every bill presented in that chamber that displeases Democrats will require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass. But Republicans don't have 60 votes.

So even were the House to pass Rep. Babin's bill (and it likely will), its movement through the Senate remains an open question — as will so many other desirable bills of significance to the proper and efficient functioning of our immigration laws. And, no doubt, Democratic liberals and progressives will delight in their power to impede passage of key portions of the Trump administration's pro-enforcement stance on immigration, something that clearly is of importance to the American electorate, which propelled Mr. Trump to office in no small measure because he promised to restore sovereignty and respect for law.

As all this plays out, the question ultimately will be what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does. So far he has been steadfast in retaining the filibuster rule, probably fearing for the day that Republicans may once again be in a minority and want the rule for their own use. But if he is not careful, he will simply hasten their fall from grace in one or even both congressional chambers, because the American people want and expect change, not self-imposed gridlock out of a Republican-controlled institution.