Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed several key immigration measures as part of broader bills.
First, the House adopted an amendment to H.R. 5326, the FY 2013 spending bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS), that defunds the Obama Administration’s lawsuits against several states that seek to strike down their immigration enforcement laws. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), is based on a bill she introduced earlier this year (H.R. 3842) to defund the suits. (See FAIR Legislative Update, Jan. 17, 2012)
Second, the house adopted another amendment to the CJS appropriations bill that strips certain funding from sanctuary cities. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), prohibits the Department of Justice from reimbursing sanctuary cities through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). SCAAP provides federal funding to state and locals to defray the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens. (See Bureau of Justice Assistance Website, May 13, 2012)
Finally, as a part of a House budget reconciliation package aimed at saving hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade, the House passed language proposed by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) that would prevent illegal aliens from receiving of the additional child tax credit (ACTC). (See H.R. 5652 § 611; see also CQ Today, May 9, 2012) The ACTC is a refundable tax credit that allows individuals with three or more children to reduce their federal income tax by up to $1,000 for each child who meets certain criteria. (See TIGTA Report 2011-41-061, July 7, 2011)
Currently, illegal aliens are eligible for the ACTC because the IRS only requires applicants for the ACTC to provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which it indiscriminately hands out to illegal aliens. Last year, the Inspector General for the U.S. Treasury Department released a report revealing that illegal aliens annually receive $4.2 billion in refundable tax credits, primarily through the ACTC. (Id.; see also FAIR Legislative Update, Sept. 6, 2011)
Having passed both the CJS and budget reconciliation bills on Thursday, both bills are headed to the Senate. President Obama, however, has threatened to veto the CJS appropriations bill because of various amendments made to the bill, and Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that the Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the Republican House’s budget reconciliation package. (Fox News, May 10, 2012; Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012)