WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) today joined U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) in introducing the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act. The legislation would convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, which includes terminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year of enactment.

“We need to change the way we do immigration enforcement. Our current system is inhumane; it is separating children from their parents, deporting and detaining too many people, and ripping families apart. None of this is making us any safer. Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan is trying to demagogue the issue. This bill isn’t about stopping immigration enforcement or open borders. It is about shining a light on the injustices of our current system, and changing the way that we conduct immigration enforcement.”

“Across my district and throughout our country, ICE is ripping families apart. They are raiding workplaces, invading homes, showing up at courthouses, schools, and hospitals, detaining individuals indefinitely, and instilling fear throughout our communities. We must put a stop to this. President Trump has weaponized this agency to accomplish his racist and harmful agenda. To bring an end to these rampant human rights violations, we must terminate ICE and convene a commission of experts to make recommendations to Congress on the redistribution of ICE’s essential enforcement functions to other government agencies. ICE has strayed far from its original purpose and has failed to enforce immigration laws and protect national security in a humane and just way. I am proud to join several of my colleagues in cosponsoring this necessary legislation, and I will continue to fight to protect the dignity of all individuals.”  

Background:

Congress created ICE in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks with the primary mission of preventing “acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities.” However, since then, ICE has become synonymous with immigration raids, home invasions, family separation, abusive detention practices, and chronic noncompliance with the law.

Recently, ICE agents themselves recognized the irreparable damage being done by President Trump’s actions when nineteen ICE agents wrote to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, stating that investigations, “have been perceived as targeting undocumented aliens, instead of the transnational criminal organizations that facilitate cross border crimes impacting our communities and national security.” The authors of the letter agree that the agency is now failing to perform its core mission and that the best path forward would be to end it and start fresh.

Ending ICE and developing a more humane immigration system that complies with constitutional protections, domestic law, and binding international treaties, while treating every person with respect and dignity is a strong step forward.

The Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act would:

  1. Convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals. This will include transferring issues like organized crime, drug smuggling, and human trafficking to other government agencies that are well-equipped to handle them and have proven track records of transparency, accountability and compliance with the law;
  2. Prior to the termination of the agency, direct Congress to act on the recommendations authored by the commission, including the transfer of necessary functions to relevant agencies and the implementation of the new immigration enforcement regime; and
  3. Terminate the agency within one year of enactment.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), José E. Serrano (NY-15), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).

The bill text of the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.

A fact sheet on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.

A section-by-section breakdown on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.