Measure would make deporting suspects easier
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.”
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