(The Daily Signal) — Some 150 House Democrats voted Thursday against a bill to allow the deportation of illegal immigrants who have been convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
“In the United States, someone dies in a crash with an impaired driver every 45 minutes,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., told The Daily Signal in a statement Thursday. “I lost two of my young newlywed constituents to an illegal immigrant driving under the influence of alcohol.
“I’m proud to join with my House Republican colleagues to protect American families from more of these tragedies by passing legislation to deport illegal immigrants who have been caught driving impaired,” Moore added.
The bill, HR 6976, passed the House of Representatives 274-150, with seven members not voting.
The bill would “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide that aliens who have been convicted of, or who have committed an offense for, driving while intoxicated or impaired are inadmissible and deportable,” according to its text.
Every Republican voted for the bill, as did 59 Democrats. Many of the Democrats who voted for the bill have been identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as vulnerable in 2024, including Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, Nevada’s Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, and Michigan’s Dan Kildee.
Many prominent Democrats voted against the measure, however. California’s Adam Schiff; Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Maryland’s Jamie Raskin; Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley; Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib; Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar; Missouri’s Cori Bush; New York’s Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler; South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn; and Texas’ Al Green and Shiela Jackson Lee all opposed the bill.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who represents New York, did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on why he opposed the bill.
“It’s unfortunately not surprising that 150 Democrats opposed this legislation,” added Moore, the bill’s sponsor. “In 2021, many of my Democrat colleagues on the Judiciary Committee voted down three Republican amendments that would have made immigrants ineligible for green cards with a DUI conviction. In 2020, then-candidate Biden said that illegal aliens with DUI convictions should be allowed to stay in the United States.”
Nadler, one of the Democrats who voted against the bill, emphasized public transportation and ride-sharing programs “so that people have an alternative to driving drunk.” He accused Republicans of blaming immigrants for the problem, rather than creating solutions.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) February 1, 2024
House Republicans have moved to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they describe as his “dereliction of duty” in handling the crisis levels of illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, Democrats have attacked Republicans who criticize an as-yet undisclosed border deal being negotiated in the Senate.
U.S. border agents encountered a record 3.2 million illegal immigrants at the border in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1.
In January 2020, Biden spoke about changing the culture of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, pledging to “hold ICE agents accountable if in fact they stepped over my executive orders.”
“You only arrest for the purpose of dealing with a felony that’s committed, and I don’t count drunk driving as a felony,” he said at the time.
In February 2021, ICE announced it would issue guidelines that agents would no longer seek to deport immigrants for crimes such as driving under the influence.
“Generally, these convictions would not include drug-based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions,” then-acting ICE Director Tae Johnson told senior officials in an email at the time.
Illegal immigrant drunk drivers caused the 2010 death of Benedictine nun Sister Denise Mosier and the 2018 death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, among others. Jose Guadalupe Menjivar-Alas, an illegal immigrant who has been deported four times, appeared in Colorado court last month for drunk driving charges after he allegedly caused an accident killing a mother and her son, Fox News Digital reported.
A 2021 Cato Institute study found no correlation between parts of the U.S. with higher levels of illegal immigrants and higher drunk driving deaths.
See the full list of Democrats who voted against the bill here.