Protect Our Law Enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement Act of 2023

Floor Speech

Date: May 17, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JAYAPAL. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 2494. Once again, the majority has put forward an extreme and unworkable piece of legislation. No one condones serious assaults against law enforcement officers. However, H.R. 2494 goes well beyond serious crimes to include minor offenses and would even allow people to be deported without an arrest, let alone a conviction.

We hear a lot about the border from my Republican colleagues, but let's remember that this bill has absolutely nothing to do with the border or with undocumented immigrants. All this bill does is add a new way for people who are living here lawfully in the United States to be deported. Most importantly, we are talking about the ability to deport lawful, permanent residents, people with green cards.

My Republican colleagues like to say that they support legal immigration, that these immigrants did things the ``right way.'' Do we really want to be deporting people with lawful status, many of whom are eligible to apply for citizenship for low-level offenses without a conviction, without due process, without a day in court?

Let's remember that convictions for serious assaults on law enforcement are already offenses that make someone deportable under current law. Our immigration laws can be very unforgiving and many times capture actions that we do not intend to include.

Under current law, if an individual is convicted of a crime of violence and sentenced to a year or more in prison, that is an aggravated felony and that person is deportable. The same is true for someone who is convicted of what is called a crime involving moral turpitude, where the crime is punishable by imprisonment of 1 year or more.

Both of these deportability grounds are already invoked when someone is convicted of a serious, intentional assault on a law enforcement officer, where bodily injury occurs or is intended. Under this bill, no conviction is required at all. Merely committing the ``essential elements'' of an assault makes someone deportable. Who is to say what an essential element is? This bill certainly doesn't define it.

I just want to give a couple more examples to what the ranking member already gave of what could happen under this bill and the unintended consequences of not requiring a conviction.

Let's say someone gets a parking ticket. They are upset about getting a parking ticket. They crumple up the ticket, they throw it on the ground, and it lands in front of the feet of a police officer. That would actually be considered assault.

Let's say an EMT is on the scene of an accident and they are going to give someone medical care, but that person is in the throes of having just been in a serious situation, they are afraid, they have pushed the hand of that EMT away, and it seems like they are pushing that person away. That action would be an assault against a law enforcement officer, a deportable offense, both of them, under this bill.

Unfortunately, during our markup, which was lengthy, we learned that our Republican colleagues are completely fine deporting people for this kind of conduct. In fact, one Republican colleague even said that he is fine deporting someone if there is no contact at all with law enforcement. They referred to lawful, permanent residents--which I was a lawful, permanent resident, probably one of the few in this body that actually knows what that means--many of whom have lived here for decades as mere ``guests'' in this country and rejected any attempt to institute any due process or basic parameters around this unworkable piece of legislation.

Instead of attempting to score cheap political points during National Police Week, my colleagues should be working with us on real bipartisan solutions to achieve humane and just immigration reform. I urge my colleagues to reject this bill.