While not on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is still a working U.S. senator, and he introduced legislation on Wednesday to help federal immigration agents.

ICE Support

Along with Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Cruz introduced the "ICE Agent Support Act of 2016" (S. 2538). The bill would give the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the "necessary resources" to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

The bill would allow ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, or ERO, to receive "substantial revenue" from penalties and fines from immigrants. The bill would also, according to Cruz, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. In a statement from the Texas senator, the current provisions grant fines and penalties for immigrants refusing to leave the U.S., despite being ordered to do so or "agreeing to do so, under false documents, or engaging in marriage fraud."

Cruz said the bill was introduced as a result of comments by ICE Director Sarah Saldaña last December during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Saldaña said lack of adequate resources and overwhelming numbers of illegal immigrants have prevented the agency from enforcing its mission.

"For far too long, the Obama administration has discouraged enforcement of our nation's immigration laws. President Obama has even personally threatened 'consequences' for the dedicated men and women who try to follow the law," said Cruz. "This legislation sends a clear signal of support to the ICE agents who risk their lives on a daily basis to enforce our nation's immigration laws. The next administration must support the people who protect us from illegal immigration and punish those who break our laws."

As of Feb. 10, S.2538 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ICE & CBP Stats

Based on the DHS 2015 fiscal year report, Homeland Security apprehended 406,595 individuals nationwide and conducted a total of 462,463 removals and returns. ICE, specifically, removed or returned 235,413 people during the same time frame, with 86 percent of these individuals categorized as "top priority," or Priority One, meaning they are considered border security or public safety threats.

The report noted the number of convicted criminals removed from within the U.S. continued to increase, hitting 91 percent during the 2015 fiscal year, up from 86 percent during the 2014 fiscal year.

For the 2016 fiscal year, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged there will be a challenge, again, due to various factors driving illegal immigration, mostly from Central America, but the department is "redoubling" efforts to strengthen the border.

But, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), another agency within DHS, apprehension of Mexican and other nationals -- mainly from Central America -- declined by 18 percent and 68 percent, respectively, during the 2015 fiscal year.


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