WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced the Combating Deceptive Immigration Enforcement Practices Act to prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) from wearing clothing displaying the word “police.” This is the Senate companion to legislation introduced last week in the House of Representatives by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY).
Advocates warn that ICE agents, by displaying the word “police” on their uniforms, routinely cause confusion between their authority and that of local law enforcement, which can result in immigrants allowing federal agents to enter their homes without a warrant. ICE agents cannot enter a home without providing a search or arrest warrant that is signed by a judge. This legislation also seeks to improve cooperation between local police officers and immigrants, by increasing transparency and reducing immigrants’ fear of deportation.
“This administration continues to ruthlessly and cruelly inflict fear and panic on immigrant communities across this country. When ICE agents display the word “police” on their uniforms, they blur the line between local law enforcement and immigration agents and confuse immigrant communities,” Senator Booker said. “These misleading interactions erode trust between local law enforcement and the communities they’re supposed to protect, and make it less likely that immigrants will report a crime because they fear deportation. Local law enforcement officers are here to protect and serve, not arrest and deport. It’s important we make that distinction clear.”
“When federal immigration officials misidentify as police, it creates distrust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez who authored the House version of the bill. “This, in turn, means real crimes go unreported and witnesses are less likely to step forward, making all of us less safe. The legislation we’ve authored will prevent ICE and CBP from misleading immigrants into thinking they are local police officers and I’m pleased Senator Booker has joined me in this effort.”
“Local officials and municipal leaders have worked diligently to strengthen community relationships with police. When ICE officers’ uniforms mimic police it negatively affects this work. We need to ensure that our residents can determine the difference between ICE officers and police, therefore changing their uniforms is absolutely necessary,” Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly, President of the New Jersey Urban Association said.
“At time when the Trump Administration has been trying to instill fear in our communities, it is important that people understand the distinction between the local police officers keeping them safe every day, and the federal officers enforcing this administration’s extreme immigration agenda,”Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Vice President of the New Jersey Urban Mayor’s Association said. “This bill would help prevent residents from being misled into mistaking ICE and CBP officers for regular local police officers. Stopping this deception is critical for the safety of Newark and other cities.”
Today’s bill comes on the heels of a letter Booker sent to the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) requesting an oversight hearing on the egregious and appalling ICE abuses revealed in recent media reports. Senator Graham last week agreed to hold such ahearing.
Booker is the author of legislation that would end the controversial 287(g) program, which allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to contract with local law enforcement for the purposes of enforcing federal immigration law.