Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (12/16/2014)

Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act or the SAFE Act - Title I: Immigration Law Enforcement by States and Localities - (Sec. 102) Authorizes: (1) states or their political subdivisions to enact and enforce immigration criminal penalties as long as they do not exceed relevant federal criminal penalties; and (2) state or local law enforcement personnel to investigate, apprehend, arrest, or transfer to federal custody aliens for immigration enforcement purposes to the same extent as federal law enforcement personnel.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) (Secretary) to provide the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) with all information that the Secretary has regarding any alien:

  • against whom a final order of removal has been issued,
  • who has entered into a voluntary departure agreement,
  • who has overstayed his or her authorized period of stay, or
  • whose visa has been revoked.

Requires NCIC to enter such information into its Immigration Violators File.

(Sec. 104) Requires states to have access to federal programs or technology directed at identifying inadmissible or deportable aliens.

(Sec. 105) Requires states and their political subdivisions to provide DHS with specified identifying information about each apprehended alien who is believed to be inadmissible or deportable.

(Sec. 106) Directs the Secretary to make grants to eligible states and their political subdivisions for procurement of equipment, technology, and facilities related to investigating, apprehending, arresting, or transporting inadmissible or deportable aliens.

Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 107) Directs the Secretary to construct or acquire additional domestic detention facilities for aliens detained pending removal.

Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 108) Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) regarding illegal aliens apprehended by state or local authorities to provide for:

  • federal custody upon state or local request,
  • state or local compensation for related incarceration and transportation costs, and
  • prompt transfer of apprehended aliens from state and local custody to federal custody.

Directs the Attorney General or the Secretary to ensure that an alien subject to removal is detained in an adequate state or local prison, detention center, or other comparable facility.

(Sec. 109) Directs the Secretary to establish immigration-related training for state and local personnel.

Gives funding priority to existing web-based immigration enforcement training systems.

(Sec. 110) Provides personal liability immunity to the same extent as corresponding federal immunity for state or local personnel enforcing immigration laws within the scope of their duties.

(Sec. 111) Directs the Secretary to continue to operate a program that: (1) identifies removable criminal aliens in federal and state correctional facilities, (2) ensures that such aliens are not released into the community, and (3) removes them from the United States after the completion of their sentences.

Extends such program to all states.

Authorizes limited state and local detention of a criminal alien after completion of a state or local prison sentence until transfer to federal custody.

(Sec. 112) Requires DHS (which currently is merely authorized) to accept a state or local request to enter into an immigration enforcement agreement absent a compelling reason to not do so.

(Sec. 113) Authorizes appropriations for the state criminal alien assistance program (SCAAP).

Transfers SCAAP from DOJ to DHS.

(Sec. 114) Requires states and localities to: (1) notify the federal government of inadmissible or removable aliens who are encountered by law enforcement personnel, (2) comply with federal law enforcement information requests and with DHS detainers.

Denies specified federal law enforcement assistance to a state or a political subdivision that prohibits law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement.

(Sec. 115) Directs the Secretary to execute all lawful writs, process, and orders issued under the authority of the United States.

Title II: National Security - (Sec. 201) Revises and expands certain terrorism-related provisions and bans with respect to naturalization, asylum, good moral character, voluntary departure, and cancellation of removal.

(Sec. 202) Prohibits an alien who was inadmissible or deportable on security and related grounds from being regarded as a person of good moral character under INA.

Applies the good moral character bar regardless of when a crime was classified as an aggravated felony.

(Sec. 203) Prohibits:

  • naturalization of an alien who was inadmissible or deportable on security grounds and related grounds; and
  • DHS or a court from considering a naturalization application while any proceeding to determine inadmissibility, deportability, or eligibility for lawful permanent residence is pending.

Requires a conditional lawful permanent resident to have the condition removed before applying for naturalization.

(Sec. 204) Authorizes the denaturalization of a person who participates in: (1) terrorist activities or incitement of terrorist activities, (2) violent or unlawful activities aimed at the overthrow of the United States, or (3) military-type training from or on behalf of a terrorist organization.

(Sec. 205) Authorizes the use or publication by DHS of certain legalization or special agricultural worker status information for any purpose relating to terrorism, national intelligence, or national security.

(Sec. 206) Requires security and background checks and investigations of suspected immigration irregularities to be completed before specified immigration-related statuses and benefits may be granted or adjudicated.

(Sec. 207) Amends the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to transfer responsibility for securing transit passage areas at ports of entry within the United States from the Department of State to DHS.

Prohibits a court from ordering the grant of benefits to any person until the necessary checks have been completed.

Title III: Removal of Criminal Aliens - (Sec. 301) Revises and expands the definition of "aggravated felony" under INA. Makes such changes retroactive.

(Sec. 302) Adds new grounds of inadmissibility for: (1) identity fraud or Social Security number misuse; (2) unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization; (3) specified firearm offenses; (4) conviction of an aggravated felony; and (5) crimes of domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse. Makes such additions retroactive.

Adds new grounds of deportability for: (1) identity fraud or Social Security number misuse, and (2) unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization. Makes such additions retroactive.

(Sec. 303) Makes inadmissible an alien who plans to or has engaged in espionage, prohibited export, or other unlawful activities, including activities aimed at the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

(Sec. 304) Prohibits the sale of or possession of firearms by any alien who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

(Secs. 305-307) Amends the federal criminal code to:

  • place a 10-year statute of limitations on most criminal violations of INA;
  • make all passport and visa fraud a racketeering activity; and
  • expand the definition of aggravated felony to include all penalties for passport, visa, and immigration fraud (under chapter 75 of title 18).

(Sec. 308) Makes aggravated felons ineligible for refugee or asylee adjustment of status.

(Sec. 309) Makes a second DUI conviction an aggravated felony under INA.

Requires the detention of an unlawfully present alien who has been convicted of driving while intoxicated without regard to whether the conviction is classified as a misdemeanor or felony under state law.

(Sec. 310) Revises provisions regarding the detention and removal of aliens ordered removed.

Begins the removal period on the latest of:

  • the date the removal order becomes administratively final;
  • the date the alien is taken into DHS custody if the alien is not in DHS custody on the date the removal order becomes administratively final; or
  • if the alien is detained or confined (except under an immigration process) on the date the removal order becomes administratively final, the date the alien is taken into DHS custody after the alien is released from detention or confinement.

Extends the removal (and detention) period beyond 90 days if:

  • the alien fails or refuses to comply with the removal order or to fully cooperate with DHS efforts to establish the alien's identity and carry out the removal order;
  • a court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or an immigration judge orders a stay of removal of an alien who is subject to a final removal order;
  • DHS transfers custody of the alien to another federal agency or to a state or local agency; or
  • a court or the Board of Immigration Appeals orders a remand to an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals while the case is pending a decision on remand.

Begins a new removal period in the case of such an extended removal on the date:

  • the alien makes all reasonable efforts to comply with the removal order or to fully cooperate with DHS efforts to establish the alien's identity and carry out the removal order,
  • the stay of removal is no longer in effect, or
  • the alien is returned to DHS custody.

Requires mandatory detention for an alien who is inadmissible or deportable under specified criminal or terrorist grounds.

Directs the Secretary to establish a detention review process for cooperative aliens.

Authorizes DHS to detain indefinitely, subject to six-month review, an alien under removal order who cannot be removed if:

  • the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
  • the alien would have been removed but for the alien's refusal to cooperate with DHS identification and removal efforts;
  • the alien has a highly contagious disease that poses a public safety threat;
  • release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences or would threaten national security;
  • release would threaten the safety of the community or any person and the alien has been convicted of either one or more aggravated felonies or crimes of violence and, because of a mental or personality condition, is likely to engage in future acts of violence; or
  • release would threaten the safety of the community or any person and the alien has been convicted of one or more aggravated felonies.

Authorizes unlimited detention of certain aliens during removal proceedings.

Subjects a criminal alien to mandatory DHS detention upon release without regard to whether the alien's release is related to:

  • certain activities, offenses, or convictions under INA;
  • whether the alien is released on parole, supervised release, or probation; or
  • whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense.

(Sec. 311) Authorizes the Secretary to designate groups as criminal street gangs.

Makes an alien who is, or was, a member of a criminal gang inadmissible and deportable.

Requires detention for anyone found inadmissible or deportable for criminal street gang membership.

Bars individuals found inadmissible or deportable for criminal gang membership from asylum, withholding of removal, and temporary protected status.

(Secs. 312-313) Amends federal criminal law with respect to identity theft and money laundering under INA.

(Sec. 314) Revises prohibitions and requirements regarding alien smuggling and harboring.

Prescribes criminal penalties for any person who:

  • facilitates, encourages, or directs a person to come to or enter the United States, or to cross the U.S. border, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to do so;
  • facilitates, encourages, or directs a person to come to or enter the United States, or to cross the U.S. border, at a place other than a designated port of entry or a place designated by DHS, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien and regardless of whether such alien has official permission or lawful authority to be in the United States;
  • transports, moves, harbors, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien seeking to enter the United States without lawful authority;
  • encourages or induces a person to reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in the United States;
  • transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, if the transportation or movement will further the alien's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;
  • harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to be in the United States; or
  • conspires or attempts to commit any of such acts.

Provides extraterritorial federal jurisdiction over such offenses.

Revises related criminal penalties.

Subjects to forfeiture real or personal property used to commit or facilitate a violation under this section.

Limits arrest authority under this section to only: (1) officers and employees designated by the Secretary, and (2) other officers responsible for the enforcement of federal criminal laws.

(Sec. 315) Subjects to specified criminal penalties (increases certain of such penalties) for illegal entry or presence an alien who knowingly:

  • enters or crosses the border at a place other than a designated port of entry;
  • evades inspection by an immigration, customs, or agricultural officer;
  • makes a false or misleading statement or conceals a material fact during examination or inspection while crossing the border;
  • violates the conditions of U.S. admission or parole; or
  • is unlawfully present in the United States.

Revises related criminal penalties.

Eliminates current criminal penalties for: (1) marriage-based immigration fraud, and (2) immigration-related commercial enterprise fraud.

(Sec. 316) Revises criminal penalties for an alien who is a criminal offender who was removed from the United States and subsequently attempts or seeks to enter, crosses or attempts to cross the border, or is at any time found in the United States.

Sets forth a limited affirmative defense to a violation of this section.

Eliminates the authorization for an alien charged with unlawful reentry to challenge the validity of any prior removal order, subject to certain limitations.

(Secs. 317-318) Increases penalties under the federal criminal code for certain immigration document and passport fraud activities, and authorizes forfeiture of property used in connection with them.

States that someone who attempts or conspires to violate such prohibitions shall be punished in the same manner as a person who completes the violation.

(Sec. 319) Reduces the period during which an alien may seek judicial review of an expedited removal order based on criminal or security grounds.

Subjects to such expedited removal procedures an individual inadmissible because of a criminal offense if the individual has not been admitted or paroled, does not have a credible fear of persecution, and is not eligible for relief from removal.

(Sec. 320) Expands the grounds of inadmissibility and deportability to include violation of federal requirements regarding sex offender registration.

(Sec. 321) Prohibits U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents convicted of certain sex offenses from sponsoring an alien for admission unless the Secretary determines that such person poses no risk to the alien.

(Sec. 322) Authorizes the Attorney General to consider evidence extrinsic to an alien's conviction record to determine whether the conviction was based on conduct constituting a crime of moral turpitude or a domestic violence offense (which would make the alien deportable).

(Sec. 323) Subjects inadmissible aliens who fail to obey removal orders to the same criminal penalties that apply to deportable aliens who fail to obey removal orders.

(Sec. 324) States that a conviction for which a pardon has been issued shall not be grounds for deportability by reason of such conviction.

Title IV: Visa Security - (Sec. 401) States that all visas held by an alien are void if the alien has overstayed his or her stay.

(Sec. 402) Revises visa information sharing requirements. Authorizes the Department of State to share visa records on a case-by-case basis with a foreign government for the purpose of determining removability or eligibility for a visa, admission, or other immigration benefits, or if in the U.S. national interest.

(Sec. 403) Prohibits waiver of a visa interview for an alien the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary, determines to be: (1) a person of concern, (2) in a class of aliens that are security threats, or (3) in a visa category that would create a high risk of degradation of visa program integrity.

(Sec. 404) Directs the Secretary of State to: (1) issue guidance to consular officers for implementing the authority to deny visa applications without interview where the alien is determined to be ineligible for a visa based upon review of the application, and (2) report to Congress quarterly on the number of denial of visa applications without review.

(Sec. 405) States that the Secretary: (1) shall have, with certain exceptions, exclusive authority to issue regulations, establish policy, and administer all immigration or nationality laws relating to consular functions in connection with visa issuance or denial; and (2) may refuse or revoke any visa to an alien or class of aliens for U.S. security interests.

Prohibits judicial review of the Secretary's decision to refuse or revoke a visa.

(Sec. 406) Authorizes a consular surcharge (in addition to immigrant visa fees) to fund the visa security program.

(Secs. 407-408) Provides for expedited clearance and placement of DHS personnel at overseas embassies and consular posts.

(Sec. 409) Requires that a person coming to study at a college, university, or language training program in the United States under a nonimmigrant student F-visa must attend an institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education.

Requires academic institutions (exempts seminaries or other religious institutions) to be similarly accredited for F-visa purposes if: (1) the institution is not already required to be accredited, and (2) an accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of Education is able to provide such accreditation.

Authorizes the Secretary to waive the accreditation requirement for an established college, university, or language training program that is otherwise in compliance with F-visa provisions and is has been a good faith candidate for accreditation for at least one year.

Makes a temporary exception.

(Sec. 410) Authorizes the Secretary, upon reasonable suspicion that an owner of, or a designated school official at, an approved institution of higher education, another educational institution, or a designated exchange visitor program, has committed student and exchange visitor program (SEVP) fraud, to: (1) suspend such certification without prior notification, and (2) suspend such official's or such school's student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS) access.

Disqualifies permanently an owner or school official who is convicted of SEVP-related fraud from filing future petitions and from having an ownership interest or a management role in any U.S. educational institution that enrolls nonimmigrant alien students or nonimmigrant alien vocational students.

(Sec. 411) Prohibits an individual from serving as a designated school official or from being granted access to SEVIS unless the individual: (1) is a U.S. national or a lawful permanent resident alien who, during the most recent three-year period, has undergone a specified background check; and (2) has completed a SEVP and SEVIS training course.

Authorizes the Secretary to collect a fee for each such security check.

(Sec. 412) Authorizes school officials to nominate as many designated school officials in addition to their principal designated school official as necessary and adequate to make recommendations to enrolled students on how to maintain nonimmigrant status.

(Sec. 413) Requires an SEVP-participating institution or exchange visitor program sponsor to report to DHS on students or exchange visitors with nonimmigrant status.

(Sec. 414) Makes flight schools that are not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration ineligible to access SEVIS.

Makes a temporary exception.

(Sec. 415) Requires: (1) that an accrediting agency or association notify the Secretary if an educational institution is denied accreditation or if accreditation is suspended withdrawn or terminated, and (2) the Secretary to immediately terminate SEVIS access.

(Secs. 416-417) ) Directs the Secretary to submit to Congress: (1) a risk assessment strategy to identify, investigate and take action against schools and school officials committing or facilitating student visa fraud; and (2) a plan for implementation of several fraud and misuse recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

(Sec. 418) Directs the Secretary to complete the deployment of both phases of the 2nd generation student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS II).

Title V: Aid to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers - (Sec. 501) Authorizes all DHS immigration enforcement agents and deportation officers who have successfully completed basic immigration law enforcement training to: (1) make arrests for offenses against the United States, for certain felonies, and for bringing in, transporting, or harboring certain aliens; (2) execute warrants of arrest for administrative immigration violations; and (3) carry firearms.

(Sec. 502) Authorizes the Secretary to hire additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention enforcement officers.

(Sec. 503) Directs the Secretary to ensure that ICE immigration enforcement agents and deportation officers are issued body armor and weapons.

(Sec. 504) Establishes an ICE Advisory Council.

(Sec. 505) Establishes a pilot program in at least 5 of the 10 busiest ICE offices to process electronically and serve charging documents, and process and place detainers while in the field.

(Secs. 506-507) Directs the Secretary to increase the number of ICE deportation officers, support staff, and prosecutors.

Title VI: Miscellaneous Enforcement Provisions - (Sec. 601) Revises voluntary departure requirements.

Makes aliens who violate certain security-related grounds ineligible for the granting of voluntary departure in lieu of removal. (Removes the condition that they must also be deportable on such grounds in order to be ineligible for voluntary departure.)

Reduces the departure period in the case of voluntary departure granted before the completion of removal proceedings.

Authorizes the Secretary to require an alien permitted to depart voluntarily before the conclusion of removal proceedings to post a voluntary departure bond, to be surrendered upon proof that the alien has departed the United States within the time specified.

Revises civil penalties for failure to depart.

Prohibits: (1) an alien who was previously permitted to depart voluntarily from being granted voluntary departure; and (2) a court from reinstating, enjoining, staying, or tolling the period allowed for departure.

(Sec. 602) Revises requirements regarding reentry bars for aliens who remain in the United States after ordered removed.

Revises the bar on admissibility for aliens removed from the United States.

Makes an inadmissible alien ineligible for discretionary relief from removal, with a specified exception, during the time the alien remains in the United States and for a period of 10 years after the alien's departure.

(Sec. 603) Revises requirements for reinstatement of removal orders.

Declares that:

  • reinstatement shall not require removal order proceedings or other proceedings before an immigration judge;
  • no court shall have jurisdiction to review any cause or claim, arising from, or relating to, the original removal order; and
  • this section shall take effect as if enacted on April 1, 1997, and shall apply to all orders reinstated or after that date by the Secretary (or by the Attorney General before March 1, 2003), regardless of the date of the original order.

(Sec. 604) States that adjustment of status to legal permanent residency is an admission under the INA, even if the adjustment of status occurred while the alien was present in the United States.

(Sec. 605) Directs the Secretary and the Attorney General each to report to Congress on the number of inadmissible and removable aliens encountered and not processed for removal or granted immigration benefits under prosecutorial discretion.

(Sec. 606) Prohibits the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture from prohibiting or restricting CBP efforts, on land under their respective jurisdictions located within 100 miles of an international land border, to: (1) execute search and rescue operations, and (2) prevent unlawful entries into the United States through the international land borders.

Grants CBP access to such lands to conduct: (1) road and barrier construction and maintenance, (2) vehicular patrols, (3) surveillance equipment activities, and (4) deployment of temporary tactical infrastructure.

(Sec. 607) Directs the Secretary to establish the biometric entry and exit data system required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 within two years at each U.S. port of entry.

(Sec. 608) Prohibits the Secretary from finalizing, implementing, administering, or enforcing specified documents regarding prosecutorial discretion.

(Sec. 609) Requires the deployment of ICE mobile rapid response teams to achieve the objectives of: (1) making emergency assistance available to law enforcement officers along the Mexican border, and (2) maintain airborne patrols to provide quick deployment and emergency response services for people who live in such border areas.

(Sec. 610) Requires a GAO report to Congress on the custody deaths of detainees held by DHS.