Photo: Rep. Luis Gutierrez Against HALT Act
A dozen pro-immigrant Democratic Members of Congress gathered for a press conference today to release a letter to President Obama saying they are opposed to the HALT Act, which they described to the President as “an attack on your integrity that should not pass unnoticed or unopposed.” The letter was signed by 75 Democrats.
The HALT Act (“Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation” Act, H.R. 2497), was introduced last week by Rep. Lamar Smith (D-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate this week by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). The bill would suspend—until January 21, 2013—certain powers the President has under current law to prioritize the deportation of criminals and suspend the deportation of individuals whose countries have been decimated by natural disasters, whose families serve in the U.S. military, or for whom other circumstances warrant leniency or special consideration.
Rep. Gutierrez said at the press conference that the HALT Act is “a mean-spirited affront to the President’s integrity” and that the 75 signatures so far—after only a week of gathering support—represented over half of the votes the House would need to sustain a presidential veto if it ever got to that point.
“We are half way there in a week,” Rep. Gutierrez said at the press conference, “and at that rate of growth from last week to this week, I am pretty confident the President has nothing to worry about if he vetoes the HALT Act.”
Rep. Gutierrez (IL) was joined by eleven other Democrats at the press conference, all of whom signed the letter—Reps. Judy Chu (CA), Yvette Clarke (NY), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Mike Honda (CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Hank Johnson (GA), Barbara Lee (CA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Jared Polis (CO), Silvestre Reyes (TX), and Jan Schakowsky (IL)—who said they would call on the House Democratic Caucus to stand with them in opposing Rep. Smith’s bill.