House Judiciary Committee Passes Bill Increasing Deportations and Criminalizing Immigrants
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 1148, the “Michael Davis, Jr. in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act,” previously known as the SAFE Act and H.R. 1153, Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015. Under H.R. 1148, the 287(g) program, which allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to delegate federal immigration enforcement to state and local agencies, would be expanded to require DHS to enter into such agreements when requested. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), a member of the committee, offered an amendment that would end the 287(g) program and in its place create a comprehensive ban on racial profiling. Rep. Chu released the following statement:
“The frequently abused 287(g) program wastes tens of millions of dollars each year, makes our communities less safe, and should be terminated not expanded. By requiring, not just allowing, DHS to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement, the SAFE Act would be an unprecedented reversal of authority over immigration enforcement. Moreover, it actually makes local policing more difficult by discouraging immigrants afraid of deportation from cooperating with state and local police. That is because the 287(g) program is a tool which too often relies on racial profiling. Abuse of this program is so rampant that 44% of Latinos across the country said they were less likely now to contact police if they were victims of a crime. This is too high a price to pay. Anti-immigrant sentiments should not trump our need for effective community policing. It is time we end this program.”
In addition to H.R. 1148 and H.R. 1153, the other bills, approved by the Judiciary Committee on March 3, were the “Legal Workforce Act” (H.R. 1147) and “The Protection of Children Act of 2015” (H.R. 1149). Together, they would mandate E-Verify for all employers, deny legal counsel to unaccompanied children at the border, and would increase deportations of asylum seekers.
“These bills are more of the same anti-immigrant enforcement-only policies we see time and time again,” continued Rep. Chu. “Rather than working towards comprehensive immigration reform these bills take us backwards and threaten to uproot thousands of aspiring Americans contributing to our communities. We have a responsibility to engage in the process and work towards a more fair and prosperous country. That is why I offered a series of amendments to protect immigrants from discrimination, ease burdens on small businesses, and guarantee basic legal protections for children. Unfortunately, these amendments were not included in the final legislation, but I will continue to fight for legal rights and equality for all immigrants.”
H.R. 1148 passed by 17-13 and H.R. 1153 passed by 21-12.