Mea­sure would make de­port­ing sus­pects eas­ier

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - MORNING BRIEFING - By Gary Martin Re­view-jour­nal Wash­ing­ton Bu­reau

WASH­ING­TON — A bill that would al­low nonci­t­i­zens al­leged to be gang mem­bers to be de­ported was passed by the House on Thurs­day over ob­jec­tions from Democrats that the leg­is­la­tion would un­fairly tar­get im­mi­grants.

“Crim­i­nal alien gang mem­bers are wreak­ing havoc in our na­tion,” said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-idaho.

He said the Crim­i­nal Alien Gang Mem­ber Re­moval Act would give law en­force­ment the tools to de­port vi­o­lent street gangs, like the Los An­ge­les-based MS-13 or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The White House im­me­di­ately en­dorsed the bill.

But re­li­gious, civil rights and mi­nor­ity rights or­ga­ni­za­tions said the broadly writ­ten bill would deny due process to im­mi­grants who have not com­mit­ted a crime, tar­get mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tions for en­force­ment and put faith-based work­ers at risk.

The bill, in­tro­duced just last week and brought to a full House vote with­out a com­mit­tee hear­ing, was passed, 233-175, mostly along party lines with 11 Democrats vot­ing in fa­vor of the leg­is­la­tion.

The con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure split the Ne­vada con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion. Reps. Jacky Rosen and Ruben Ki­huen, both Democrats, and Rep. Mark Amodei, a Repub­li­can, voted to pass the bill.

Rep. Dina Ti­tus, D-nev., voted against the leg­is­la­tion.

“A vote for this bill is a vote to at­tack, pro­file and de­port im­mi­grants,” Ti­tus said.

Ti­tus said she stood with the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus in op­po­si­tion to the sweep­ing pro­vi­sions that could al­low law en­force­ment to “tar­get nuns, min­is­ters, rab­bis, hu­man­i­tar­ian work­ers and oth­ers who har­bor im­mi­grants who are of­ten flee­ing dan­ger.”

Although the His­panic Cau­cus op­posed the bill, Ki­huen and three other cau­cus mem­bers voted for the leg­is­la­tion. Through a spokesman, Ki­huen de­clined to comment.

A Rosen spokes­woman also de­clined to comment.

The bill is un­likely to pass in the Se­nate, where Repub­li­cans hold a slim 52-48 ma­jor­ity and would need 60 votes to block a Demo­cratic fil­i­buster.

Rep. Bob Good­latte, R-VA., a co-spon­sor of the House bill that passed Thurs­day, said law en­force­ment needs the de­por­ta­tion law to crack down on street gangs.

The leg­is­la­tion de­fines gangs as five or more peo­ple with the pri­mary pur­pose of com­mit­ting felony crimes like drug and hu­man traf­fick­ing.

Labrador said Democrats of­ten talk about crack­ing down on crimes com­mit­ted by un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, “but our friends on the other side don’t want to do any­thing about it.”

Con­tact Gary Martin at 202-6627390 or gmartin@re­viewjour­ Fol­low @gary­martindc on Twit­ter.

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