Law Enforcement Officials Lead Critique of Enforcement-Only Bills

Communications Associate

May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the House Judiciary Committee gathers today to consider bills that would further ramp up immigration enforcement and target all undocumented immigrants, law enforcement leaders and others are pushing back.

First on the committee’s agenda: H.R. 2431, the Davis-Oliver Act, which would criminalize unlawful presence in the U.S. and require state and local law enforcement to redirect their limited resources toward immigration enforcement, among other provisions.

On Wednesday, 27 law enforcement leaders sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee to express concern with this kind of legislation.

“By requiring state and local law enforcement to become immigration agents, such legislation distracts local law enforcement from our core public safety mission,” they write.

In addition, the sheriffs of Texas’ two largest counties, Harris and Dallas, published an op-ed in which they highlight the assault on community safety that the bill represents.

Troubling enforcement provisions are also a hallmark of two other bills scheduled for markup. The bills would authorize U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The ICE authorization bill would ramp up aggressive enforcement tactics by providing for an additional 10,000 deportation officers and requiring that every deportation officer be given an M-4 assault rifle or its equivalent. The agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations would have access to any Department of Homeland Security database, which could allow access to information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and their family members for enforcement purposes.

The USCIS authorization bill would prioritize enforcement by permanently authorizing the existing E-Verify pilot program.

“Across the spectrum, Americans do not want an enforcement-only immigration system. All enforcement all the time makes local law enforcement’s work harder, hurts American workers and goes against our values,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Congress and the administration should target criminals and other safety threats. They certainly should not coerce local law enforcement into carrying out immigration operations targeting people who pose no threat. The cost to public safety and community trust is too high.”

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