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Conyers Statement for the Markup of H.R.2431, “Trump’s Mass Deportation Act”

May 18, 2017

Through my time here in Congress, I have seen many legislative fights and stood up against many injustices.  And yet through it all I have always found comfort in the values and ideals of this great nation.

But these past few months have been especially troubling.  From refusing to investigate the President for potential ties to Russia, to denying health insurance to millions of Americans—I am left wondering what this Congress stands for.

Today, we are here to discuss a terrible, anti-immigrant bill.  It expands an already massive federal agency; it threatens local governments to do the federal government’s bidding; and it intrudes on the privacy rights of average Americans.          

It also violates our values as a nation of immigrants, and harms communities across the nation.          

Among the bill’s greatest shortcomings is that it makes it a crime to be undocumented in this country. That is not the kind of tough, but fair, solution our Nation needs.           

Another major problem with the bill is that by granting local officers unprecedented and unchecked authority to enforce Federal immigration laws, the bill will actually make our communities less safe.

Studies show that when police officers become immigration agents, crime victims and witnesses fear coming forward.  Crimes go unreported and public safety suffers.

And if States and localities decide the best way to promote public safety and community policing is to adopt policies regarding the immigration enforcement actions of cops, this bill denies those jurisdictions Cops on the Beat grants.  Those are grants specifically designed to promote public safety and enhance community policing.

This is why this legislation has been opposed by the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force.  It is has also been opposed by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, and others.

Third, this legislation will result in widespread racial profiling and unconstitutional arrests of U.S. citizens and immigrants alike.          

How do we know this?   Because that is what happened in jurisdictions across the U.S. that entered into 287(g) agreements with the Department of Homeland Security.          

We saw it in Maricopa County, where a federal judge found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio engaged in a pattern of racially profiling Latinos.

We also saw it in Alamance County, North Carolina, which had its 287(g) agreement terminated based on findings of abuse by the Department of Justice.  According to DOJ’s Complaint, the Alamance County Sheriff explicitly ordered his staff to “go out there and catch me some Mexicans,” and “directed deputies to ‘arrest Hispanics’ – but not others – for minor infractions.”

So what does this bill do?  Rather than improve on current practice and require more oversight over 287(g) agreements, it grants total enforcement authority with no checks at all.       

In closing, this legislation represents a significant down payment on Donald Trump’s Mass Deportation Plan.  It is singularly focused on the widespread location, detention and deportation of millions of immigrants and would cause untold harm to American communities.

I urge my colleagues to reject this mean spirited and dangerous legislation.

115th Congress