House members and national immigration advocates held a press conference June 18 to denounce the enforcement-only bill being marked up by the House Judiciary Committee.
The immigration enforcement bill, Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, gives local police the authority to investigate and arrest illegal immigrants and transfer them to federal authorities for deportation.
A string of members denounced the SAFE Act’s approach to immigration enforcement with House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York calling the act “a greatest hits compilation of the worst immigration proposals of the recent past.”
Introduced by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) who heads the subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, the bill focuses on strengthening national security and internal enforcement of immigration laws by delegating to local law enforcement. The bill also expands the number of detention facilities for illegal immigrants awaiting processing and deportation.
Immigration activists disrupted the morning hearing to markup the bill when they stood up and clapped in unison, chanting “Sí, se puede,” a phrase in Spanish used frequently in support of the immigration movement, meaning “Yes, we can.”
Advocacy organization Human Rights First also denounced the SAFE Act in a statement released June 18 calling its handling of immigration “draconian.”