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Friday Office Hours: Rep. Espaillat’s New “Sensitive Locations” Bill; ICE Targets Victims & Witnesses; Recess Plans

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During today’s “Office Hours,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Grace Huang, Angel Padilla and Frank Sharry analyzed the real-life impacts of Trump’s radicalism on immigration enforcement —families separated; crime victims and witnesses afraid to testify; the most vulnerable afraid to seek help — and overviewed plans to fight back against Trump’s $3 billion DHS spending request during recess.

A recording of today’s call is available here. 

U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), said:

I am particularly concerned by President Trump’s hard line policies on immigration and commend America’s Voice Education Fund for hosting today’s press call to amplify the urgency of now as it pertains to the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies. As we have seen from DHS, victims of crimes are at risk of being ICE targets. That’s right, not criminals, but VICTIMS. I have called upon my Republican colleagues to dig very deeply into their souls and pass my Protecting Sensitive Locations bill to protect immigrants from ICE hounds targeting innocent people in courthouses. As Members of Congress, we have a duty to defend and challenge policies that will lessen our American values and our standing as a beacon of hope and freedom for all.  That’s why I’ve introduced a series of legislation that would require ICE and CBP agents to wear body cameras while on duty (ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act); prohibit immigration enforcement activity in sensitive locations such as places of worship, schools, courthouses, and public areas (Protecting Sensitive Locations Act); prevent construction of the border wall on public lands (This Land Is Our Land). It is critical that we work to create effective policies that will strengthen our country and ensure equal and civil rights to all, and a path to full citizenship for our immigrant community.

Grace Huang, Policy Director, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, said:

Recent statements by a DHS spokesman, and confirmed by DHS Secretary Kelly, regarding courthouse immigration enforcement policies ignore the devastating impact on immigrant victims and witnesses to crime, and reinforce perpetrators’ threats to victims if they seek help that they will be deported.  They also disregard the longstanding protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking created by Congress in the Violence Against Women Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Angel Padilla, Co-founder, Indivisible Project, said:

Without question, the most vulnerable group under the Trump Administration is immigrants. Donald Trump made this clear during his campaign, and since being sworn in, he has tried to fulfill every one of his anti-immigrant campaign promises, including his border wall, detention facilities, and mass deportation force. But Donald Trump can’t do this by himself — he needs Congress to fund his anti-immigrant agenda. This recess, Members of Congress will hear from their constituents that no taxpayer money should be spent on Trump’s wall, detention facilities, or mass deportation force.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

For a year and a half, Trump campaigned on a promise of mass deportation, and, from time to time, reporters, pundits and Trump supporters would argue that he was ‘softening’ his stance. It’s clear now that Trump and DHS are determined to drive millions of immigrant families out of America. He has eviscerated any and all deportation priorities and declared open season on all immigrants, regardless of how long they’ve been here or how many U.S. citizen kids they have. Now, ICE has confirmed that they will use courthouses as targets — conducting enforcement actions against victims and witnesses. This will have a an enormous chilling effect, making entire communities afraid to seek justice. The bedrock of a judicial system is that it works to ensure that all victims can come forward without fear. This DHS policy undermines public safety — in the name of public safety.