In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump gave the American people a stirring case for the importance of immigration enforcement. The president first described the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year old woman by an illegal alien in New York City. Police had previously arrested the suspect but released him because of New York’s sanctuary laws that prevented his transfer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Trump followed this disturbing example with a second harrowing tragedy in another sanctuary state, California. There, an illegal alien killed two people, attempted to kill others, committed armed robbery and carjacking, and fired at police officers before police killed him. All of this was preventable. Gustavo Garcia was a twice-deported illegal alien with a long criminal history. Just days before his rampage, police detained him but could not turn him over to ICE for removal proceedings, due to California’s sanctuary laws.
These experiences are just two of the thousands of tragedies wrought by our country’s porous borders and sanctuary jurisdictions. Contrast the President’s remarks with those from the Democratic Party’s top presidential aspirants, all of whom favor decriminalizing illegal immigration and amnestying millions of illegal aliens. This contempt for immigration enforcement by the primary candidates is shaping the entire party’s views on illegal immigration.
Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) introduced a radical bill that calls for the complete eradication of our immigration system as we know it. H.R. 5383, the New Way Forward Act, calls for major changes that amount to a call for open borders. This 28-page bill lays out the immigration vision of the far left as one of lawlessness and utter contempt for Americans concerned about illegal immigration’s effects on our nation.
The bill starts by banning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from contracting with states and private companies for detention space. Seeing as DHS holds about 70 percent of detainees in these facilities, this represents an attempt to completely cripple DHS’s and ICE’s ability to hold and detain illegal immigrants. The bill forces DHS to get a warrant from an immigration judge simply to detain a suspected illegal alien. The government must argue before a court why it would want to hold a dangerous criminal alien rather than releasing them. Yet prosecutors could not cite an alien’s criminal record as the “sole factor” justifying detention, guaranteeing that dangerous criminal aliens would be released from custody.
Title II of the New Way Forward Act is a de facto amnesty for any illegal alien residing in the United States. Under the bill’s amended language of Section 239(d), any illegal alien who can avoid detection for five years gets to stay in the United States free from any threat of deportation. Even criminal aliens with five or more years of residency are safe from removal under this language.
Incredibly, this bill goes even further. Title V targets state-level efforts to combat illegal immigration by ending the popular 287(g) program that allows local police and sheriff’s departments to perform immigration-related law enforcement functions. 287(g) is an effective force-multiplier for ICE, and local departments rely on the program to promote public safety.
Title VI decriminalizes all illegal immigration by repealing 8 USC 1325 and 1326, the laws which currently hold that illegal entry and illegal re-entry are crimes. This is a position held by most of the far left within the Democratic Party, notably introduced first in May 2019 by former presidential candidate Julian Castro. Most of the front-runners support this once-radical position, including Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.
Most outrageously, the bill would give all aliens deported after April 24, 1996 the ability to challenge their removals in court. Title VII even orders the U.S. government use taxpayer money to fly them back to the United States to reopen their cases and stay for as long as it takes to adjudicate! This procedure would probably take years, given that the United States removed over 4.6 million people between 2003 and 2018. Anyone is eligible to return and challenge their deportations, including drug traffickers and human smugglers.
This bill, undeniably, would tear down the last remaining barriers to illegal immigration in this country. Some apologists argue that no serious politician is promoting “open borders.” This legislation unequivocally shows that at least 44 House Democrats are arguing for just that – open borders. The eradication of statutory penalties for illegal immigration, the shuttering of detention contracting, the repealing of the 287(g) program, and the taxpayer-funded return of previously deported illegal aliens is nothing if not a cry for open borders from the far left.
Preston Huennekens is a government relations associate at the Federation for American Immigration Reform.