U.S. House Judiciary Committee
May 17, 2017
OPPOSE THE “MICHAEL DAVIS, JR. AND DANNY OLIVER IN HONOR OF STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ACT”
Dear Member of the House Judiciary Committee:
We write to express our strong opposition to the “Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act” of 2017, which is scheduled for markup tomorrow. After years of refusal to take up bipartisan comprehensive immigration legislation, we are dismayed that the Committee would attempt to move forward with such a heavy-handed and lopsided bill. This legislation builds upon the administration’s executive orders on immigration enforcement, to effectively turn our immigration system into a mass deportation machine.
This bill’s single-minded focus appears to be the widespread location, detention, and deportation of immigrants. It does not fix – nor is it even a serious attempt to fix – the widespread problems with our nation’s immigration system such as family-based visa backlogs, due process and human rights concerns, or the need for orderly and fair employment-based visas. In many respects, it would make the problems worse. It certainly does nothing to help create a long-overdue road to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants who have been living and working peacefully in our communities for many years.
The flaws in this bill are numerous and significant. For example:
- The bill would effectively criminalize unlawful presence. The millions of aspiring citizens throughout our country who ought to be encouraged to submit to background checks, pay fines, and regularize their status – which would result in tremendous humanitarian and public safety benefits – would instead be subject to criminal prosecution.
- It would vest sweeping immigration enforcement authority in the hands of state and local police officers, without adequate federal oversight. Local police could act like immigration agents even though they are neither qualified nor trained in understanding our complicated immigration laws. In doing so, it would make communities less safe, as immigrant and Latino communities would be reluctant to turn to the police if they were victimized or witnessed a crime. Breeding distrust of law enforcement decreases rather than increases public safety.
- It would lead to racial profiling and wrongful detention, because those who “look unauthorized” would be subject to law enforcement stops, arrests, and detention.
- The bill would create sweeping and vague new grounds for inadmissibility, detention, and removal. This includes new grounds based on the mere suspicion of gang membership – which creates “guilt by association” even in cases where gang-related activity was the result of coercion or duress.
Again, we strongly urge you to reject this legislation, and to encourage the committee to instead redirect its attention to moving forward with a credible bipartisan proposal. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Rob Randhava, Senior Counsel, at (202) 466-6058.
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