The Republicans in the House have introduced bills to make it easier to deport undocumented immigrants. This is in support of President Trump’s agenda of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Bob Goodlatte from Virginia has proposed two bills. The first is called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act or H.R. 2406. The bill orders the hiring of 12,500 additional immigration enforcement officers. All officers would also be in high-quality body armor and issued M-4 rifles, handguns and taser guns. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will also be granted the power to arrest without a warrant. The bill calls for the creation of the ICE Advisory Council that will insure that state and local authorities are cooperating with the immigration enforcement objectives. The ICE Advisory Council will be composed of members appointed by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ICE’s prosecutors’ union, ICE’s union and the President himself.
Lastly, the bill codifies the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE). VOICE will provide information to the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as well as to the family of victims regarding their attackers and available resources.
The second bill known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization Act or H.R. 2407, aims to strengthen the powers of the USCIS. The bill codifies ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) power to investigate anything related to national security, worksite enforcement of immigration laws, human trafficking, racketeering (RICO) offenses, weapons smuggling, document fraud, and immigration benefits and violations.
This bill also establishes by statute the ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division. The ERO is responsible for identifying, apprehending, detaining and removing aliens unlawfully present or removable on criminal or other grounds, including aliens who are members of criminal gangs. The bill also establishes the Office of Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), which currently does not appear in the laws. The Principal Legal Advisor will provide legal and policy advice to the USCIS and represents the Department in immigration court litigation.
The third bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Member, Representative Raul Labrador from Idaho. This bill is called the Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act or H.R. 2431. This bill will transform civil immigration violations into criminal violations which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, the previously granted immigration benefits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA will be removed and hence pave the way for these undocumented immigrants to be deported because they knowingly violated the immigration laws.
This bill further requires states to give information to DHS on all details pertaining to undocumented immigrants apprehended or inadmissible or deportable. The required information includes the person’s name, address, photograph, license plate number and all other identifying information. Furthermore, the bill punishes the cities and states which are sanctuary cities (a loose term that refers to communities that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation) by cutting off their Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants.
Lastly, under this bill, it would take longer and make it more difficult for foreigners to apply for and be approved for visas to the United States because there will be additional layers of scrutiny. These layers of scrutiny include the checking of social media accounts.
Immigration advocates have criticized the proposed bills and stated that they do not address the complex problems in the immigration laws, but rather reinforce the negative perception of undocumented immigrantsthat they are criminals and dangerous and hence, should be deported. They also claim that they will tear families apart. Lastly, commentators have compared the bills to the notorious laws of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s which alleged that all crimes were committed by Jews and hence should be exterminated.