Yesterday, House Republicans passed two anti-immigrant bills which would further Donald Trump’s mass deportation agenda. One, H.R. 3003, would target so-called “sanctuary cities” and make American communities less safe for everyone, while the other, H.R. 3004, would exacerbate immigrant family separation by jailing those who sought to re-cross the border and reunite with their families after a deportation. It already seems unlikely that the bills will be passed in the Senate.
The bills were widely opposed, with hundreds of advocacy organizations, more than a thousand faith leaders, the US Conference of Mayors, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force speaking out against one or both bills. Now that they’ve passed, here’s the reaction from members of Congress and advocates:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA):
Just four years after there was a bipartisan consensus for comprehensive and humane immigration reform that would have helped families and our economy, Republicans are returning to their strategy of fear and punishment…
The sum of these two bills is a strategy of fear. Republicans want to tell Americans to be afraid of immigrants and are making immigrants afraid to leave their homes…This chilling effect on millions of Americans and their families – documented or not – cannot be what our country stands for. I hope we can return to the bipartisan consensus around comprehensive immigration reform that improves the pathways to immigrate legally, keeps families together, and grows our economy.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):
I am appalled that just one week after World Refugee Day, Republicans are attempting to push through not one, but two bills that run counter to our values. Criminalizing victims of human trafficking, asylum seekers, good Samaritans, and victims of violence under the guise of safety is unacceptable. I reject these fear-mongering bills, and I will continue to fight to welcome the ‘huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,’ even as my Republican colleagues attempt to slam the door in their faces.
Representative Filemon Vela (D–TX):
Republicans in the US House of Representatives and the Trump Administration continue to demonize immigrant communities as an excuse to build up their deportation machine. Like Texas Senate Bill 4, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would require local law enforcement to engage in federal immigration enforcement under the pretense of “safety and security.” But that sham is quickly exposed after minimal scrutiny of the measure’s text. The bill would punish cities and towns that refuse to comply with constitutionally-questionable detainers by stripping them of the very funds they need to protect residents. That is not pro-safety – that is extortion to fulfill a racist agenda, plain and simple. Today, I joined the Fraternal Order of Police and the United States Conference of Mayors in opposing the bill.
Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director at United We Dream Action:
Republicans have blocked every opportunity for immigration reform, citizenship and equal rights for decades. Their focus has been to cause more pain for communities of color, to divide our country, to lock more of us away in immigrant detention camps or prisons, rip families apart and to deport millions of us. Now House Speaker Paul Ryan and his party are doubling down on their attacks by giving Trump more ammunition to impose his racist agenda and mass deportation force on all of us.
This is a test of the morality of all Members of Congress, including Democrats: will they follow Trump’s racist dog whistle or stand up for all people and oppose it?
The purpose of these bills is to terrorize Latinos and black and brown families.
Joanna Williams, Director of Education and Advocacy with the Kino Border Initiative and member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition:
Here in Arizona and across the southern border the safety of our community and the dignity of each individual and family is our top priority. For that reason, we condemn Rep. McSally’s vote for legislation that would not only further the gap of mistrust in local police but would continue to punish individuals who are trying to reunite with their US citizen children and other loved ones. Rep. McSally and other elected officials made a commitment to fairly represent the people and with today’s decision they have failed to listen to their constituents. We have spoken and we do not want nor do we need this type of legislation. The resources wasted on this frivolous hate-filled legislation would be better used to revitalize not militarize our communities.
John Gehring, Catholic Program Director at Faith in Public Life:
Speaker Ryan and Secretary Kelly are Catholics who claim to take their faith seriously but aggressive efforts to demonize and deport immigrants show an arrogant contempt for their church’s consistent teachings. This immoral and cruel legislation will break up families and tear communities apart.
Pope Francis has urged lawmakers to defend the dignity of all immigrants, and bishops have long pressured political leaders to fix an outdated immigration system that rips our immigrant neighbors away from the communities they call home. Ryan and Kelly should stop singing from Trump’s nativist hymnal and consult with Catholic sisters and priests who are on the ground in immigrant communities.
People For the American Way Political Director Lizet Ocampo:
For years Republicans have made harassing and attacking immigrant communities a major legislative priority; today’s votes continue that pattern. Instead of working to develop meaningful immigration reform, Republicans continue to vilify Latinos and encourage bigotry and prejudice.
Politicians love to talk about unity, but this legislation does nothing but tear our communities apart. No one will be safer because of this legislation. The only impact is to harm immigrant families. That’s a shameful way for our elected officials to exercise their power.
Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM):
Republicans in the House are hell bent on criminalizing the hard working immigrants who contribute so much to our country. This week they voted on two heartless bills that do nothing more than continue to fuel Trump’s deportation machine…
The attacks on brown and black people by Republicans are not going unnoticed. The people are on our side—they marched with us on May 1st, they showed up after Trump issued the first refugee ban and they called out elected officials at town halls. Our message to Congress is clear: the only solution to fix the broken immigration system is a pathway to citizenship.
These two bills are the antithesis of our values and should be condemned by everyone.
Marian Mendez-Cera, organizer with El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos:
These bills undermine constitutional protections, public safety, and local authority and would grant an already out-of-control Trump administration unfettered authority to detain, criminalize, and deport our families.
Instead of passing discredited enforcement-only legislation, Congress should move forward on enacting just immigration reform legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship and eliminates mass detention and deportation programs that undermine fundamental human rights.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations:
We are horrified and dismayed that House leadership has chosen to line up behind the administration in its scapegoating of immigrants. Both of these bills further the administration’s goals of criminalizing all immigrants and expanding mass incarceration. Since the administration failed in its attempt to strip funding from municipalities with sanctuary and community trust policies in federal court, it is looking for Congress to fulfill its anti-immigrant agenda…
Rapidly pushing these bills through the House as America looks toward a holiday that celebrates the best of our American ideals is clearly an effort to slide this legislation under the radar of anyone who would oppose it, including millions of Americans who support immigrants’ rights.
Vilifying and punishing immigrants who may be fleeing violence or seeking a better life for their families does not makes us safer, just inhumane. We call on Congress to reject this latest anti-immigrant strategy.
Sameera Hafiz, Advocacy Director for We Belong Together:
Both immigration bills before the House this week present dangerous, anti-immigrant proposals that are part of Trump’s strategy to effectuate the massive deportation of immigrants from the US. Over the past months, the American public has sent a strong message to our legislators that families should not be separated, individuals seeking safety and asylum should be met with humanitarian protection and local jurisdictions should not be punished for limiting their role in federal immigration enforcement. These bills are outrageous affronts to our constitutional norms.
Congress, in considering these cruel and unconstitutional bills, is doing nothing but creating mechanisms to effectuate Trump’s massive deportation agenda. It is clearer now than ever that Trump is trying to normalize discrimination based on religion, the criminalization of immigrants and people of color, and attacks on women. Though we are saddened by the persistent lack of accountability for police who kill Black people, the Supreme Court’s partial restoration of Trump’s Muslim ban, and his continued demonization of immigrants – we know that the voices and stories of our communities will carry forward.