Judiciary GOP Passes Trump’s ‘Mass Deportation And Child Incarceration Act Of 2017’ (HR 2431)
Washington, DC – Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement reacting to Judiciary Committee passage of a bill the Democrats labeled the Trump Mass Deportation and Child Incarceration Act of 2017 (HR 2431). The bill, which recycles the worst and least effective deportation-only approaches of previous failed Republican bills like the SAFE Act and the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437 of 2005-06), is designed to make House Republicans look tough and uncompromising in opposing immigration, but in reality would undermine the civil liberties of American citizens, undercut the rule of law, and undo improvements in immigration enforcement that have contributed to historically low levels of illegal immigration in recent years.
The Congressman from Illinois who sits on the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Taskforce of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, offered three amendments to the bill – among scores of Democratic amendments – which were defeated by party line votes (like the other Democratic amendments).
“The Judiciary Committee should be focused on investigating President Trump and preparing for the inevitable impeachment proceedings that will go through the Judiciary Committee in the coming months,” Rep. Gutiérrez said.
“Instead, Republicans are going back to the well of immigration fear-mongering, more interested in terrifying citizens about how awful they think immigrants are and equating immigrants with crime, not addressing solutions related to immigrants and immigration. Republicans see the immigration issue as a convenient weapon and a distraction from the serious issues facing their President,” Rep. Gutiérrez said.
The bill requires mandatory detention for children seeking asylum in the United States, a massive increase in immigrant detention, new methods of criminalizing immigrants so that it appears the Trump Administration is deporting more serious, violent criminals than is the case in reality, and new restrictions on the rights of U.S. citizens.
Rep. Gutiérrez said, “It is the kind of hearing that demonstrates the gridlock in DC and specifically on the immigration issue. Both parties have different goals. The Republicans play politics, going along with their leader Donald Trump and the team of anti-immigration advocates who populate his administration. They like demonizing immigrants and want to deport as many as they can regardless of the individual circumstances. Democrats on the other hand are put in the position of defending state and local police, U.S. citizens, immigrants and refugees, and the rule of law against Republican overreach.”
“The debate is focused exclusively on illegal immigration, not on consensus issues, ways to fix legal immigration that would end illegal immigration and increase legality and vetting. We never get a chance to legislate broadening and strengthening legal immigration so that we reduce smuggling. We need to discuss how the pretense of immigration enforcement impinges on the civil rights and civil liberties of American citizens. We never get to debate broad issues like the use of private prisons and mass incarceration for profit and the impact on children we place in prison.”
One of Gutiérrez’s amendments would have required ICE agents to be subjected to the same hiring standards and background checks required of FBI Special agents, especially in light of the fact that the legislation authorizes the use of military-style weapons. (Video: https://youtu.be/01orbSFOw7c)
A second Gutiérrez amendment would have given U.S. citizens and legal immigrants the right to sue the federal government – and state and local governments acting on behalf of the feds – if the citizen or legal immigrant is put in detention by authorities who wrongly suspect them of being immigrants in the country illegally. (Video: https://youtu.be/SKMPYWRY4Ow)
Finally, the most contentious amendment offered by Rep. Gutiérrez was to prioritize the deportation of serious, violent criminals rather than treating all immigrants as equally high priorities for deportation per executive actions from President Trump. During President Obama’s tenure there was an attempt to prioritize the deportation of serious, violent criminals rather than immigrants who have no serious criminal record or crimes not derivative of their visa status. Republicans voted against the amendment to treat serious violent criminals as higher priorities for deportation on a party line vote. (Video: https://youtu.be/1pBads_1F64)
“When Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) offered an amendment to change the bill’s name to the ‘Trump Mass Deportation and Child Incarceration Act of 2017,’ I think she hit the nail on the head,” said Gutiérrez of one of the last amendments offered and later withdrawn. “If Republicans are proud of what they are doing, they should own up to the actual content and substance of the bill. However, they do not want to admit they are advocating for mass deportation or child incarceration, not to mention the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution, or victims of domestic violence who will be cut off from seeking help from law-enforcement. I am very proud of the fight that Democratic Members of the Committee put up to this awful bill. If enacted, it will weaken American communities and tear at the fabric of American life.”
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