H.R. 3003 makes our immigration system more dysfunctional and puts communities in peril

June 29, 2017
Blog Post

WASHINGTON, DCU.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, issued the following statement today on the floor of the House of Representatives in opposition to H.R. 3003, the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act," an anti-immigrant bill to coerce states and localities to abandon community trust policies and cooperate with federal immigration enforcement:

"Mr. Speaker – this bill isn't about fixing our immigration system.  It's not about strengthening community safety.  In fact, it makes our immigration system more dysfunctional and puts communities in peril.

"This bill is about telling communities how to police themselves and protect their people.  It's a bill that says we here in DC know better than you do, local police across the United States.

"Now, 600 or more local governments engage in what they call "community trust" policies. Those policies promote, among other things, allowing immigrant victims and witnesses to crime to report those offenses to local authorities without fear of immigration consequences.  And years of locally informed experience have proven that this approach best ensures these communities' safety.

"I think that's why we have received communications from the National Fraternal Order of Police in opposition to this bill, from the Law Enforcement Task Force – that's 36 sheriffs and chiefs across the country – in opposition to this bill, from the Major County Sheriffs of America in opposition to this bill, from the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence against this bill, as well as the US Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties.

"ICE is not prohibited from doing their job. But as the San Jose Police Department has told me, San Jose Police are not enforcing securities laws, they're not enforcing the federal tax laws, they're not enforcing the immigration laws of the United States – they're doing their job to protect their community against crime. Now, because they are doing that the threat is to remove funding from jurisdictions.

"Now what would that funding be?

"It's grants against violent gangs. It's grants for the anti-heroin taskforce and anti-methamphetamine program. Grants on port security to prevent terrorists from getting into the United States. Grants on the biowatch program to prevent terrorists from getting biohazards and killing us all. That's not smart to take those programs away from local governments that are working with us to help keep America safe.

"Now I always think, we're not doing bumper stickers here, we're doing laws. And it's important to take a look at the details at what's in this proposed bill.

"In addition to banning collaborative grants with localities, the remedy that's made available is, if the community has a community trust policy, the Department of Homeland Security can refuse to honor warrants – legal warrants – that are issued by that jurisdiction.

"That's astonishing. That is simply astonishing, because what the local governments have said on the detainer policies is that the 4th amendment prevents them from holding people whose sentences have been served. And in fact there are a number of federal courts that have made that determination: you can't hold somebody on a civil detainer request without violating the 4th amendment. Well there's a remedy for that: get a warrant like anybody else! The 4th amendment means something and there's a remedy. Go get a warrant. I don't know why our federal government feels they can upend Constitutional law for their own convenience.

"Now there's a provision of this bill that I find shocking. What it says is that if local governments violate the law – violate a court order – that they cannot violate the 4th Amendment, that they are immunized. The Federal government is going to pay, go ahead and violate the law.

"I cannot remember a time when we had a bill before us that said to states and localities, go ahead and violate the law because we're going to indemnify you for the violation. That's not the way our federal system should work. And it's not the way those of us who believe in our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States think that things ought to work.

"Finally, it creates something I think is truly astonishing – a private cause of action against a state or locality if – because the detainer cannot be honored because of the federal court cases – and a person is release and for any reason commits a crime then it's a locality that bears the cost, not the criminal. This is a crazy, crazy provision. We should oppose this bill and I yield back the balance of my time."