May 27, 2017
Republicans in the House of Representatives are moving forward with sweeping immigration legislation that would crack down on sanctuary cities, hire thousands of new armed immigration officers and help facilitate President Donald Trump’s plans to deport undocumented residents.
The wide-ranging bill was approved this week by the House Judiciary Committee, with all 19 Republicans on the committee supporting it and all 13 Democrats opposing it.
The bill is named after two Sacramento-area law enforcement officers, Danny Oliver and Michael Davis Jr., who were fatally shot by an undocumented immigrant in 2014. Lofgren, arguing that it didn’t honor their legacy, introduced an amendment to rename the bill the “Trump Mass Deportation and Child Incarceration Act,” but she eventually pulled the amendment.
“It’s not hyperbole to say that it is one of the most anti-immigrant bills to be marked out of the Judiciary Committee in the history of the nation,” said Jose Magaña-Salgado, an attorney at the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “This legislation represents a grab bag of all the destructive things that can make our immigration system even worse.”
But supporters of the bill said it was important to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — better known as ICE — enforce America’s immigration laws.
“The Davis-Oliver Act is a first and necessary step to modernize a broken immigration system,” Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “We need to give law enforcement at all levels the tools and resources they need to keep America safe and secure.”
The bill would also make it against the law for local jurisdictions to refuse to comply with requests from ICE to hold immigrants in local jails, in an attempt to eliminate “sanctuary” policies like those taken up by many Bay Area cities and counties. It would withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, essentially giving legal backing to a Trump administration executive order to do the same.
The House bill also calls for hiring 12,500 new ICE officers, and would issue them body armor and firearms. “What it provides for is really having people go door-to-door with assault weapons,” Lofgren said. “There are elements of it that I think are inconsistent with a free society.”
In addition, the bill would allow local jurisdictions to enforce immigration law. Currently, some cities and counties are allowed to do so through individual agreements with the federal government, but the bill would broaden that.
The bill has not yet been set for a vote before the full House. The office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon about when a vote might take place.