Lee and Serrano Offer Amendment Prohibiting ICE Raids in Sensitive Locations

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman José  Serrano introduced an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee to the Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security bill to prohibit funding for ICE and CBP raids in sensitive locations like schools, hospitals, courthouses, and community health centers.

Please click here to watch the full debate on the Lee-Serrano Amendment. Below are her remarks as prepared:

“Mr. Chairman, this amendment that I have cosponsored with Mr. Serrano from New York would prohibit ICE and CBP from engaging in immigration enforcement activities in sensitive locations, as well as courtrooms and departments of motor vehicles.

“My amendment would codify and expand already existing ICE and CBP policy into statute.

“Now Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and the Ranking Member for your work on this issue. I was pleased to see in the committee report language that acknowledges current ICE policy states that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should be avoided. These are locations identified as schools, health care facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies or observances, and public demonstrations. So my amendment would merely strengthen this language and codify it in law.

“Mr. Chairman, under this current administration, ICE has created unwarranted fear in our communities, especially for immigrants. Families and whole communities are scared to go out of their house in fear of ICE picking them up and deporting them. ICE arrests of individuals with no criminal convictions have jumped 156 percent under this current administration. This is completely unacceptable. Families should not have to face fear of leaving their house to go merely go outside and do normal activities.

“But that is what is currently taking place under this current administration. In Los Angeles, ICE recently picked up a father who was taking his 13-year-old daughter to school. Can you imagine? Taking your own child to school only to be picked up and interrogated.

“In Queens, New York ICE went to an elementary school to inquire about a 4th grader.

“In El Paso, ICE officers also detained a domestic violence victim when she walked into a courtroom to get a protective order against her abuser.

“In my own district, the Bay Area of California, I’ve heard from my constituents and they are deeply terrified. Children are afraid to go to school and restaurant owners are training staff on what to do if ICE shows up. Such heinous and morally reprehensible actions at sensitive locations like schools and bus stops have had incredibly negative effects on our communities.

“ICE Enforcement actions at courthouses have already resulted in fewer victims reporting crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault. According to the Houston Police Department, the number of Latinos reporting rapes in Houston has fallen by more than 40 percent this year. The  Los Angeles Police Chief links the 10% drop in reports of domestic violence among Latinos and 25% drop in sexual assault reports to a fear of the government.

“This misguided, anti-immigrant policy of ramping up enforcement will only serve to alienate communities. The public is not safer when immigrants fear their government and distrust law enforcement. It’s quite the opposite.

“I urge my colleagues to support my critical amendment. Let’s ensure that our constituents are safe and are not living in fear.

“Mr. Chairman, the state of California and many other governments around the U.S. have determined that core state and local government functions such as education, health care and policing should be kept separate from immigration enforcement. 

“While it has been ICE and CBP policy not to conduct enforcement at such locations, the rhetoric from the DHS Secretary as well as the political climate has emboldened officers to no longer abide by these guidelines. This is why my amendment is so important.

“In order to create safe environments, all people – regardless of their status – must feel comfortable working with law enforcement to bring true criminals to justice.”