Per Second News—Embattled Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation that would bring sweeping changes to the U.S immigration enforcement apparatus, adding thousands of new deportation officers and, among other things, equipping each of them with body armor and an assault rifle.
Per Second News gathered in Washington Friday that the bill is being sponsored by a band of Republicans, spearheaded by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia.).
The bill gives out new enforcement powers and responsibilities for the Homeland Security and Immigration agencies.
President Trump’s White House strategist Steve Bannon has advocated that immigration violations traditionally treated as civil infractions should be transformed into criminal violations, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Speaking before judiciary committee members Thursday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat-NY), said the provision would “turn millions of Americans into criminals overnight.” Nadler added that the legislation was “straight out of the Donald Trump mass deportation playbook.”
The bill echoes Trump’s call to increase ICE’s ranks with the addition of 10,000 new agents, as well as 2,500 new detention officers and 60 new full-time ICE prosecutors. Deportation officers on the ground would inherit new arrest powers under the proposed legislation, including the power to arrest immigrants accused of criminal or civil offenses without a warrant, even if the agency determines those individuals are not “likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained.” Under the bill, those deportation officers would be heavily armed, with each officer issued “high-quality body armor” and “at a minimum, standard-issue handguns, M–4 (or equivalent) rifles, and Tasers.”
To insure state and local authorities are falling in line with federal immigration enforcement objectives, Goodlatte’s ICE authorization bill has called for an “ICE Advisory Council” — a panel that would include members appointed by himself, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ICE’s prosecutors’ union, ICE’s union (which endorsed Trump), and the president himself.
Brad Schneider (D-IL) noted that under the language of the proposed law recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the Obama-era program currently shielding hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the U.S. as undocumented children from deportation — could be stripped of their protections because they are in the country while knowingly in violation of the law.
“This draconian bill is absolutely wrong,” Schneider said. “DACA recipients are not criminals.”
Nigerians in the U.S make up a significant share of the nation’s immigrant population, the largest from Africa, according to the Pew Research center.
U.S. immigration arrests increased nearly 40 percent in early 2017 as newly emboldened agents under President Donald Trump detained more than 40,000 people suspected of being in the country illegally — with a renewed focus on immigrants without criminal convictions.
The numbers released by Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan provide a snapshot of how the president is carrying through on his campaign promises to make immigration enforcement a top priority.
Overall, 41,300 people were arrested for deportation, a 38 percent increase from a comparable period last year.
Debate on the proposed bills is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.