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GOP Proposes 'Draconian' Bills to Criminalize Millions of Immigrants

The legislation would "turn millions of Americans into criminals overnight," says Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

A group of Salvadorean immigrants wait to be deported in the Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas. (Photo: Getty)

The Republican Party is proposing three draconian bills that critics say will turn millions of immigrants into criminals overnight, and also empower Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enact mass deportations.

The proposed legislation comes as ICE reports that President Donald Trump's executive orders cracking down on immigration resulted in a 40 percent increase in arrests and detentions—and a 158 percent increase in arrests of immigrants with no criminal history—when compared to the same time period last year.

"[T]he vast majority—91 percent—of the arrests of immigrants with criminal histories—more than 27,700 people arrested over three months—had only a non-violent offense on their records, which could include offenses like simple drug possession, driving without a license, and entering the U.S. illegally," notes Human Rights Watch.

"For every arrest of an immigrant with a violent conviction, ICE arrested four immigrants with no criminal history and 10 with a previous non-violent conviction," the advocacy group continues. "This means that every single day, ICE arrested 112 people with no criminal history, 286 people with a previous non-violent criminal conviction, and only 28 people with a previous violent conviction."

But it appears that detaining and deporting tens of thousands for nonviolent offenses isn't enough for the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans.

The Intercept's Ryan Deveraeux reports on the frightening new legislation, which would further ramp up the government's crackdown on immigrants:

Spearheaded by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), two of the bills pertain to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), laying out new powers and responsibilities for both agencies, while a third, introduced by Goodlatte and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), takes aim at a wide range of issues in immigration enforcement.

That third bill, the "Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act," which appeared in a tweeted photo of White House strategist Steve Bannon’s policy agenda, would see immigration violations traditionally treated as civil infractions transformed into criminal violations, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Speaking before judiciary committee members Thursday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), said the provision would "turn millions of Americans into criminals overnight." Nadler added that the legislation was "straight out of the Donald Trump mass deportation playbook."

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) told Deveraux that the proposed laws would also turn so-called Dreamers—young people protected by former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—into criminals. "This draconian bill is absolutely wrong," Schneider said. "DACA recipients are not criminals."

The Davis-Oliver act would turn into law Trump's promises to cut funding to sanctuary states and cities. "Under the law, states would also be required to provide [the Department of Homeland Security] a wide range of details on all immigrants who are apprehended and 'believed to be inadmissible or deportable,' including that individual's name, address, photo, and license plate number, as well as other identifying information," writes Devereaux.

The law would also empower ICE agents to arrest people without a warrant, and arm those agents with military-grade equipment.

"Under the bill," notes Devereaux, "those deportation officers would be heavily armed, with each officer issued 'high-quality body armor' and 'at a minimum, standard-issue handguns, M–4 (or equivalent) rifles, and Tasers.'"

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