Statement on H.R. 2431, the Trump Mass Deportation Act

May 18, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, issued the following statement today during a full committee markup of H.R. 2431, the Trump Mass Deportation Act – a harsh, anti-immigrant, enforcement-only proposal that would criminalize all undocumented immigrants, undermine public safety, harm the American people and waste millions of dollars:

"Some will say this bill is needed to keep us safe.  But what the bill really does is pander to the noxious notion that immigrants are criminals and should be dealt with harshly.

            "As we know, the truth is that immigrants commit crime at a far lower rate than the native born.  They add greatly to the country's wealth, both by working in agriculture, technology, medical care, housing, and other critical sectors of the nation's economy, and by operating small businesses in every corner of this country. 

"But in Trump's America, we are told not to trust the news, that climate change is a hoax, that less health care coverage is better health coverage, and that immigrants are dangerous. 

"The real danger, of course, is making policy based on alternative facts. 

"Based on alternative facts, this bill would turn all undocumented immigrants—including Dreamers, parents, and children—into criminals overnight.  And it would empower local law enforcement with little training in the area to engage in overreaching witch-hunts replete with racial profiling and violations of our civil rights.  

"It is no surprise that this bill was on Steve Bannon's white board as a priority for the Trump Administration.  This bill gives Trump and Bannon the legislative authority to establish their massive "deportation force" and would turn our communities into police states overnight.  This bill should really be called the "Trump Mass Deportation Act." Because that is what it is.

"This bill will make us neither safer nor more prosperous.  Since Trump's inauguration and the issuance of his Executive Orders, we have seen a sharp decline in international visitors, fewer foreign students seeking to study here, and ripple effects in our technology sector.  Whether intended or not, Trump has sent the message that the United States is closed for business, and our economy is paying the price.

"After the Executive Orders, we have also seen decreasing levels of crime reporting within Latino communities.  This is not a good thing.  Law enforcement officers and prosecutors all over the country know that if residents are too afraid to come forward to report crime or testify against criminal activity, their communities – our communities – will be less safe.   If this bill is enacted into law, criminal activity in these communities will only escalate, as criminals will be allowed to commit crime with impunity.  

"The bill simply casts aside these inconvenient truths in the rush to target and expel immigrants. 

"The Constitution fares no better.  Despite my colleagues professed adoration for the Constitution and limited government, this bill raises severe constitutional concerns. 

"There are the provisions that turn immigration law on its head by allowing states and localities to enact their own immigration laws and penalties, and to independently enforce them.  These include the authority for local officials to investigate, arrest, and even detain individuals they suspect have violated civil immigration laws—all without any coordination with Federal authorities. 

"Perhaps more pointedly, the bill puts states and localities in de facto control of federal enforcement by giving them the power to order federal officers, without exception, to arrest and detain individuals suspected by the local officers of violating immigration laws.  Giving local officers the authority to commandeer federal enforcement resources intrudes on core executive powers and raises significant separation-of-powers and federalism concerns.

"There are also provisions authorizing the indefinite, and possibly permanent, detention of persons who cannot be removed despite their cooperation with removal efforts.  This provision would overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Zadvydas v. Davis, where the Court strongly suggested that such detention would violate bedrock constitutional protections.     

"Again, I ask why we feel compelled to violate the Constitution despite a professed loyalty to our Constitution.

"I am left wondering whether anti-immigrant rhetoric has so invaded some of us that we are no longer able to embrace the fundamental ideals embodied in our Constitution.

"It was not too long ago when my Republican colleagues and I were able to have reasonable conversations about immigration policy.  While we disagreed on many things, we shared certain core beliefs that allowed us to work on common-sense, bipartisan solutions. 

"This bill is not a solution.  It is the wrong direction for our country, and I hope that we can at least make some of it better through a series of amendment that we will offer."

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