House Committees Debates Future of Immigration Bills

(ESPAÑOL) Democrats and Republicans committees dispute the upcoming immigration bills before its possible implementation.

Proponents of the first bill under consideration by the House judiciary committee — named after two law enforcement officers who were allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant — advocated for the bill as important to public safety and rule of law.

But Democrats on the committee decried the bill as an unnecessarily harsh anti-immigrant push by President Donald Trump.

Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said the bill was not intended to target immigrants, but to “respect the rule of law.”

“This is simply a bill that gives any administration, the current one and future ones, the authority to enforce our laws properly, and gives to state and local governments … the ability to participate in that enforcement,” Goodlatte said.

The committee was set to mark up three Republican bills related to immigration on Thursday — one that would vastly expand the role of state and local jurisdictions in immigration enforcement and two others that would authorize immigration components of the Department of Homeland Security.

The main bill the committee discussed, the Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act, would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties. It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, beef up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.

The other two bills, introduced by Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, would serve as authorizations for ICE and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, codifying the mission statements of both entities.

It’s unclear if any of the bills will make it to the full House floor. It is a virtual certainty that Democrats will unanimously oppose the bills, and a substantial number of moderate Republicans could balk at such an aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.

Even if the bills were to pass the House, they would need at least eight Democratic votes in the Senate to pass there, assuming all Republicans support the bills.