WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today approved by a vote of 14-10 legislation to strengthen visa security, curb fraud, and enhance the integrity of the immigration system. The Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016 (H.R. 5203) – introduced by Representative J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) – contains a number of targeted reforms to protect the United States from those seeking to harm Americans or take advantage of its generous immigration system.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Terrorists have made it clear that they will exploit our nation’s immigration system to harm Americans and our interests. Visa security is critical to national security and we must address gaping holes in our immigration system that allow those who wish Americans harm and fraudsters to game the system.
“The Visa Integrity and Security Act takes a number of steps to strengthen visa security, curb fraud, and enhance the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. Notably, it expands a critical visa vetting program to ensure all visa applicants receive additional screening and requires the government to examine publicly available Internet postings to determine if a visa applicant is a security threat. I thank Congressman Randy Forbes for his work on this bill and urge House Leadership to bring this bill swiftly to the floor.”
Key Components of Visa Integrity and Security Act:
Strengthens visa security:
• Requires the completion of a Security Advisory Opinion as part of the comprehensive security check process for nationals from certain countries of concern, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.
• Requires the Departments of Homeland Security and State to utilize social media and other publicly available information to help determine if the visa applicant is eligible for a visa and if they are a security threat to the United States.
• Expands the Visa Security Program to all U.S. embassies and consular posts, ensuring that all visa applicants received additional screening.
• Requires officials at DHS to conduct in-person interviews of petitioners and beneficiaries located in the United States seeking to change their immigration status.
• Requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of, and report to Congress on, the security of visa processing, including screening and background checks as well as how those results are considered in the adjudication process.
• Within six months of enactment of the bill, it requires the DHS Secretary to provide the House and Senate Judiciary Committees a plan for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to use advanced analytics software to ensure the proactive detection of fraud in immigration benefits applications and petitions and to ensure applicants are not a threat to national security. The plan must be implemented one year after it is provided to the Committees.
• Requires the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) to conduct benefit fraud assessments on various immigration programs and report their findings to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
• Requires proof of relationship through DNA testing, to be paid for by the applicant, to be submitted with certain visa petitions.
Enhances integrity of the immigration system:
• For a visa to be issued by officials at the Departments of Homeland Security and State, the applicant must prove eligibility by clear and convincing evidence.
• Requires that any request for additional documentation or evidence to substantiate the applicant’s eligibility for a visa must be fulfilled; otherwise the application will be denied.
• Under the bill, applicants must answer each question completely and each line must be filled out properly. Requires any document containing foreign language submitted as part of the immigration benefits adjudication process to be accompanied by a full English translation by a certified translator.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Examining the Allegations of Misconduct Against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Part I.”
At the hearing, members of the House Judiciary Committee will examine the findings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation of IRS Commissioner Koskinen. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has investigated the targeting of conservative groups for several years and many of the Committee’s members have found that Commissioner Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena which resulted in destruction of key evidence, made false statements during his sworn congressional testimony, and did not notify Congress that Lois Lerner’s emails were missing.
Witnesses for the May 24th hearing are:
The Honorable Jason Chaffetz, Member of Congress
The Honorable Ron DeSantis, Member of Congress
A Democratic witness to be determined
The Honorable John Koskinen, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service (Invited)
The hearing will be webcast live at http://judiciary.house.gov/. In June, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a second full committee hearing to hear from outside experts on the findings presented in the first hearing and whether further congressional action is warranted. Witnesses for the second hearing will be announced at a later date.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) have pressed Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) efforts to make New Orleans a sanctuary city.
In 2010, the mayor of the City of New Orleans requested DOJ to “reform” the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). In 2011, officials at DOJ’s Civil Division threatened NOPD with a civil rights lawsuit, which led to a consent decree in 2012. As part of the consent decree, NOPD officers were prevented from considering an individual’s immigration status when performing their law enforcement duties. In February 2016, NOPD enacted written policies pursuant to the consent decree that prevent officers from responding to requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding criminal aliens in custody, except in very limited circumstances. The Justice Department reviewed and approved those policies prior to their enactment by NOPD.
In their letter to Attorney General Lynch, Goodlatte and Gowdy write:
“It is outrageous that DOJ would seek a consent decree to actually inhibit the ability of the federal government to enforce federal law. By hindering the ability of ICE to apprehend criminal aliens, DOJ consciously disregards the safety and security of the American public by enabling the release of these criminals back into our communities to commit more crimes. It also places ICE agents and officers at greater risk when they are forced to arrest these criminal aliens who are no longer in a secure jail facility, but in public places where they can more readily escape or access a weapon. In addition, the consent decree may be interpreted to require NOPD to adopt policies that require its officers to violate federal law.”
Below is the text of the letter to Attorney General Lynch. The signed copy can be found here.
May 18, 2016
The Honorable Loretta Lynch
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
We are concerned by reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought and obtained a consent decree in federal court requiring the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to adopt policies that prohibit police officers from considering an individual’s immigration status when performing their law enforcement duties. Also troubling are reports that DOJ reviewed and approved written policies promulgated by NOPD in implementing the consent decree, which appear to restrict the ability of NOPD officers to respond to requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law. This written policy, “Immigration Status,” became effective on February 28, 2016, and it now appears in Chapter 41.6.1 of the NOPD Operations Manual. The relevant policy statements provide:
3. NOPD members shall not make inquiries into an individual’s immigration status, except as authorized by this Chapter.
4. The enforcement of civil federal immigration laws falls exclusively within the authority of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
5. The NOPD shall not engage in, assist, or support immigration enforcement except as follows: (a) In response to an articulated, direct threat to life or public safety; or (b) When such services are required to safely execute a criminal warrant or court order issued by a federal or state judge.
6. Unless authorized by Paragraph 5, members are not permitted to accept requests by ICE or other agencies to support or assist in immigration enforcement operations . . . . In the event a member receives a request to support or assist in a civil immigration enforcement action[,] he or she shall report the request to his or her supervisor, who shall decline the request and document the declination in an interoffice memorandum to the Superintendent through the chain of command.
The NOPD “Immigration Status” policy statements purportedly derive from a consent decree entered into by the City of New Orleans and DOJ on or about July 24, 2012, and approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on January 11, 2013. The consent decree itself was the result of a request by the mayor of the City of New Orleans to DOJ in May 2010, to review NOPD practices and procedures. In 2011, DOJ’s Civil Division determined that NOPD engaged in a pattern of civil rights violations and, as a result, DOJ initiated litigation against the City of New Orleans to remedy those violations. The consent decree was intended to resolve that litigation.
However, it is outrageous that DOJ would seek a consent decree to actually inhibit the ability of the federal government to enforce federal law. By hindering the ability of ICE to apprehend criminal aliens, DOJ consciously disregards the safety and security of the American public by enabling the release of these criminals back into our communities to commit more crimes. It also places ICE agents and officers at greater risk when they are forced to arrest these criminal aliens who are no longer in a secure jail facility, but in public places where they can more readily escape or access a weapon. In addition, the consent decree may be interpreted to require NOPD to adopt policies that require its officers to violate federal law. The policy statements referenced above could be read to require the violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1373, which provides that no person or agency may prohibit or restrict a federal, state, or local agency from sending, requesting, receiving, or exchanging information about an individual’s immigration status with ICE.
The Louisiana Legislature is currently considering Louisiana House Bill 151, the “Illegal Alien Sanctuary Policy Prohibition Act.” A legislative hearing on H.B. 151 was held on April 21, 2016, before the Louisiana House Judiciary Committee. At that hearing, representatives from the New Orleans Mayor’s Office and NOPD testified that the “Immigration Status” policy statements were vetted and “enthusiastically” approved by DOJ’s Civil Division.
On April 27, 2016, the Louisiana Attorney General sent you a letter regarding the NOPD policy statements. In the letter, Louisiana Attorney General Landry requested that you confirm whether DOJ (1) reviewed and approved the NOPD policy statements, and (2) required the City of New Orleans to adopt the NOPD policy statements as part of the consent decree. The answers to those questions are critical to determine whether DOJ may have impermissibly approved the violation of federal law or required NOPD to violate federal law as a condition of compliance with the consent decree. Therefore, please provide us with a copy of your response to Louisiana Attorney General Landry’s letter when it is issued.
To more fully understand the issues described above, on or before May 30, 2016, please also provide copies of all written, printed, recorded, graphic, electronic, audio, or visual material of any kind, whether prepared by you or by any other person, that is in the possession, custody, or control of DOJ, which refers to, or relates to:
Any and all communications made by or on behalf of the City of New Orleans, NOPD, DOJ, or any other person, regarding or in response to the review or investigation of the practices or procedures of NOPD on or after January 2009.
Any and all communications concerning the consent decree in U.S. v. City of New Orleans, 2:12-CV-01924-SM-JCW (E.D. La. Jan. 11, 2013), including all antecedent communications regarding the decision to initiate that litigation, and all antecedent communications regarding the prosecution and settlement of that litigation.
Any and all communications regarding the development, drafting, review, approval, or promulgation of any NOPD policy regarding the immigration status of any person, including the policy statements found in Chapter 41.6.1 of the NOPD Operations Manual.
For purposes of this request, “communications” means any disclosure, transfer, or exchange of information or opinion, however made, including but not limited to, emails, voice mails, fax, memoranda, inquiries, or reports. If you cannot fully respond to this request, please identify the specific item within this request to which you cannot fully respond and explain the constitutional rationale for not fully responding.
Additionally, please provide a briefing to Committee staff regarding the foregoing matters on or before June 1, 2016.
If you have any questions about this request, please contact Tracy Short, Counsel, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, at (202) 225-3926. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Bob Goodlatte Trey Gowdy
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border SecurityRead More
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), and Steve Womack (R-Ark.) issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed 2017 renewable fuel volumes, which were released yesterday, under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):
“The proposed increases in the volume of ethanol under the current RFS will continue to harm America’s consumers and economy while adversely impacting the environment. The EPA’s proposal forces more ethanol into the market than our current infrastructure can handle. This is unsustainable and increases food and fuel costs on hardworking American families. House Members have put forth bipartisan solutions to cap fuel ethanol volumes to match current market realities and lessen the impact of the ethanol mandate on families and businesses. It is time we move forward with solutions that will have a positive impact on the American economy while lowering emissions and protecting consumers.”
Click here to read more about Congressman Goodlatte’s bills, H.R. 704, the RFS Reform Act, and H.R. 703, the RFS Elimination Act. Click here to read more about H.R. 5180, the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Judiciary Committee today announced that it will hold two full committee hearings to examine misconduct by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.
At the first hearing, which will take place on Tuesday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m., members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear from a witness panel presenting the findings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation of IRS Commissioner Koskinen. The House Judiciary Committee will also invite IRS Commissioner Koskinen to testify. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has investigated the targeting of conservative groups for several years and many of the Committee’s members have found that Commissioner Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena which resulted in destruction of key evidence, made false statements during his sworn congressional testimony, and did not notify Congress that Lois Lerner’s emails were missing.
At the second hearing, which will take place in June, members of the House Judiciary Committee will invite outside experts to comment on the findings presented in the first hearing and whether further congressional action is warranted. Witnesses for both hearings will be announced at a later date.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the statement below on the upcoming hearings:
“The fact that officials at the IRS wielded their power to target certain Americans for their political views is both outrageous and contrary to our nation’s values. Our government is supposed to work for all Americans, not for a particular partisan agenda. As a result of the IRS’ targeting, conservative groups were singled out across the nation, resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements, overly burdensome information requests, and lengthy, unwarranted delays in their applications.
“Despite repeated congressional efforts to get to the bottom of this matter, Obama Administration officials, including the IRS Commissioner, have consistently undermined the investigation. Over the coming weeks, the House Judiciary Committee will closely examine Commissioner Koskinen’s misconduct and the implications of his actions.”Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced today that Jamie Swartz, a senior at Heritage High School, is the winner of the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia’s 2016 Congressional Art Competition. Her egg tempera painting, Anthurium Light, will be on display in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year as part of a display of artwork by high school artists from across the nation. Jamie resides in Lynchburg and is the daughter of Jim and Sandy Swartz. She plans to attend Lynchburg College in the fall. Her art instructor at Heritage High School is Jon Roark.
Goodlatte: “The Sixth District is home to many talented artists, and the next generation is no exception! I am pleased to announce that Jamie Swartz, a senior at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, is the winner of the Sixth District’s 2016 Congressional Art Competition. Anthurium Light captures Jamie’s skill and eye for detail. I look forward to this painting representing the Sixth District in the U.S. Capitol. Congratulations, Jamie!
“Art comes in many forms, and this year’s Congressional Art Competition entries did not disappoint. I applaud the efforts of each student who submitted artwork. Thank you to everyone who participated as well as the teachers and parents encouraging them to learn more about art and test out their own talents.”
Anthurium Light by Jamie Swartz
The 2016 runner-up is In the City by Casey Murano, a student at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke. The third place winner is Peaks of Otter by Amanda Noel Solomon, a student at Timberlake Christian Schools in Lynchburg. These entries will be on display in Congressman Goodlatte’s Roanoke and Lynchburg offices, respectively.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 413-5 the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046). This bipartisan bill combats the opioid epidemic by establishing a streamlined, comprehensive opioid abuse grant program that encompasses a variety of new and existing purposes, such as: vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement; criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids; drug courts; and residential substance abuse treatment. The bill authorizes $103 million annually for the grant program and is fully offset.
Additionally, as a growing number of new abusers of prescription drugs get their first pills by pilfering friends or family members’ prescriptions, the bill as passed contains an amendment allowing states to use funds under the comprehensive opioid abuse grant program to prevent prescription drug pilfering.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised the passage of the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act:
“The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse and Reduction Act represents government at its best. Not only does this bipartisan bill provide necessary resources to state and local governments to help prosecute opioid drug traffickers and help prevent and treat opioid addiction, it also saves taxpayers’ dollars by streamlining the grant program to eliminate government waste and red tape. I thank Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner and Congressman Mike Bishop for their work to end our nation’s opioid epidemic and look forward to working with the Senate to send this bill to the President’s desk.”
Passage of H.R. 5046 follows House approval of several House Judiciary Committee bills that curtail international drug trafficking into the United States, protect classified information about drug kingpins, increase the transparency and accountability of the comprehensive opioid abuse grant program, and study Good Samaritan laws that protect those who report or treat an overdose from criminal or civil liability.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the statement below on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia’s ruling in favor of the House of Representative’s lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s use of unappropriated funds to implement the Affordable Care Act:
“Today’s ruling by the DC federal court is an important step toward restoring the separation of powers and stopping President Obama’s power grab. The Constitution is very clear: it is Congress’ job to write our laws and it is the President’s duty to enforce them. The Constitution is also clear that Congress has the power of the purse – the President cannot spend Americans’ money on his own terms. Yet President Obama has undermined this fundamental constitutional principle by spending billions of taxpayer dollars on the implementation of Obamacare that were never appropriated for those purposes by Congress by law.
“This fight isn’t about partisan politics; it’s about preserving our Republic and protecting individual liberty. If the President is allowed to change laws by himself and use money that has not been appropriated by Congress, he and future presidents can be expected to change more laws that affect Americans’ rights and tax dollars. Both the legislative and judicial branches must put a stop to the executive branch’s abuse of power so that we preserve our system of government for the generations to come.”
In July 2014, the House of Representatives approved H.Res. 676, a resolution authorizing the House to enter into litigation against President Obama for his failure to faithfully execute the laws. The House filed litigation over President Obama’s unilateral changes to Obamacare on November 21, 2014.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, joined Congressmen J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), to introduce legislation to strengthen visa security, curb fraud, and enhance the integrity of the immigration system. The Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016 (H.R. 5203) contains a number of targeted reforms to protect the United States from those seeking to harm Americans or take advantage of its generous immigration system.
Goodlatte: “From the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the more recent attack in San Bernardino, we are reminded that terrorists have and will continue to exploit our nation’s immigration system to carry out their heinous plots. Visa security is critical to national security and we must address gaping holes in our immigration system that allow those who wish Americans harm and fraudsters to game the system.
“The Visa Integrity and Security Act takes a number of steps to strengthen visa security, curb fraud, and enhance the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. Notably, it expands a critical visa vetting program to ensure all visa applicants receive additional screening and requires the government to examine open source Internet postings to determine if a visa applicant is a security threat. I thank Congressman Randy Forbes for his work on this bill and look forward to moving it through the House Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.”
Key Components of Visa Integrity and Security Act:
Strengthens visa security:
Enhances integrity of the immigration system:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, today praised the Committee’s approval of the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 (H.R. 5063) by a vote of 18-6.
Introduced by Goodlatte, this bill bars the Department of Justice (DOJ), and all other government agencies, from requiring defendants to donate money to outside groups as part of their settlement agreements with the federal government.
Need for this legislation arose after a 20-month House Judiciary Committee investigation found that DOJ had engaged in a “pattern or practice” of systematically subverting Congress’s budget authority by using settlements from financial institutions to funnel money to left-wing activist groups. This bill would end this practice and restore accountability to the appropriations process.
Goodlatte: “When DOJ recovers money from parties who have broken the law, those funds should be going to victims, or to the Treasury so that Congress can ensure accountability for how the funds are spent. These funds should not be funneled to the president’s pet liberal groups.
“Damages recovered by DOJ officials from settlements with major financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis should not be going into the pockets of left-wing special interest groups, while Congress is working to help hardworking Americans recover.”
2309 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives.
Bob’s service to the people of the Sixth District began in 1977 when he became District Director for former Congressman Caldwell Butler. He served in this position for two years until 1979, and was responsible for helping folks across the District seeking assistance with or encountering problems from various federal agencies. In 1979, he founded his own private law practice in Roanoke. Later, he was a partner in the law firm of Bird, Kinder and Huffman, working there from 1981 until taking office.
In the 113th Congress, Bob was elected to serve as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He is the first Judiciary Committee Chairman from Virginia in the last 125 years. Bob has been an active Member of the Judiciary Committee since arriving in Congress, serving in a variety of leadership positions on the Committee including Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet in the 112th Congress, Vice Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Task Force on Judicial Impeachment in the 111th Congress, Ranking Member of the Antitrust Task Force in the 110th Congress, and Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property in the 109th Congress. Additionally, Bob also served on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The House Judiciary Committee will certainly be at the forefront of some of the most significant issues facing Virginia and the Sixth District, including protecting Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties, oversight of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, legal and regulatory reform, innovation, competition and anti-trust laws, terrorism and crime, and immigration reform. It is likely that many of these issues will be the deciding factors in determining the future direction of our nation. The jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee is well-suited to many of Bob’s legislative priorities such as protecting Constitutional rights, including private property and Second Amendment rights, securing our borders through immigration reform, strengthening our criminal laws, decreasing health care costs through medical malpractice reform, and oversight of the Judicial branch and Administration. One of Bob’s top legislative initiatives is his Constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget so that Congress will be forced to control spending. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over all proposed amendments to the Constitution.
In addition to serving on the House Judiciary Committee, Bob serves on the House Agriculture Committee. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, which is of particular importance to the Sixth District since it is one of the leading turkey and poultry producing districts in the nation. He also serves on the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition. Bob has served the Agriculture Committee in a variety of leadership roles including Chairman of the Agriculture Committee (2003-2007), Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee (2007-2008), Vice Chairman of the Agriculture Committee (2011-2012), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry (1997-2003), and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research (2009-2010).
During his time in Congress, Bob has made a name for himself as a leader on Internet and high-tech issues. He is Co-Chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus as well as Chairman of the House Republican Technology Working Group.
Bob is a graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law, and his undergraduate degree in Government was earned at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He resides in Roanoke with his wife, Maryellen. He and Maryellen have been married since 1974 and have two adult children, Jennifer and Rob.
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