HALT Bill to block Obama administration deportations discretion

In Washington, Congressman Lamar Smith announced his plans to introduce a bill that would prevent the Obama administration from deferring the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

This comes after ICE issued a memo about prosecution practices earlier this month.

Action 4 News interviewed a man we'll call "Mario" who said he's lived here illegally since the 1990's and hopes Congressman Smith will reconsider introducing his bill.

Mario said he's lived in San Juan since 1997.

He said he's originally from Matamoros and came here looking for better opportunities.

"Here there's more opportunity for work," he said.

Like many immigrants, he seeks the American dream.

"I come to work and get ahead in life with merit and good honorable work," said "Mario."

"Mario" works in construction and picks crops for a living.

He doesn't consider himself a criminal just because he's here illegally.

Mario praises the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for issuing a recent memo explaining their use in discretion when prosecuting undocumented immigrants to ensure the agency's immigration enforcement resourses are focused on the agency's enforcement priorities.

"It's good that they are taking that initiative," he said.

But in response to the memo, U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) said he will introduce a bill that will block ICE from choosing who to deport.

"Recent changes to the secure communities program prove the Obama administration is focused on the 2012 campaign rather than their duty to protect and serve the American people...President Obama and his administration continue to circumvent Congress and use executive branch authority to allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S.," said Congressman Lamar in a prepared statement.

The Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act would prevent the Obama Administration from granting parole (except in narrow circumstances), issuing deferred action (except in narrow circumstances), issuing extended voluntary departure to removable aliens, granting work authorization to aliens on a discretionary basis, granting TPS to any new groups of aliens, waiving the three and 10 year bars to admittance for aliens who have been illegally present in the U.S. and granting cancellation of removal to illegal immigrants.

The bill would restore these powers to the next president the elected on January 22, 2013.

But La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) said Congressman Smith is using the opportunity to throw more fuel to the fire on the immigration debate.

"The fact that they're using that occasion to attack again the situation of families and students that have been here working and living in the Unted Sates that call this home really shows that the republican leadership is very disconnected from the American public. What the American public wants," said John-Michael Torres with La Union Del Pueblo Entero.

Click here to see the memo from ICE