While some cities and municipalities are fighting President Donald Trump’s executive order to ramp up arrests and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers by declaring themselves places of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, Democrats at the federal level have done little to push back on the order.
But on Thursday, House Democrats announced a new bill, the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, that would make it illegal for ICE agents to conduct operations–including arrests–in “sensitive locations.” The bill would add courthouses, domestic violence shelters, and school bus stops, among other places, to the list of locations where ICE agents are not allowed to arrest people. Currently, ICE guidelines say raids at schools, churches, and hospitals “should generally be avoided” but are legal.
“We have seen photos of ICE vans on church grounds, so this legislation will prohibit them,” Congressman Adriana Espaillat (D-NY), one of the bill’s sponsors, said. “It will codify, if you may, a regulation that’s already supposedly in place within Homeland Security, which prohibits law enforcement to be able to have access and make arrests and question and surveil individuals in these highly sensitive locations.”
Trump’s order made what was already a frightening environment for many immigrants, both documented and undocumented, even more unsettling.
One undocumented man was arrested while dropping his daughter off at school. Others have been arrested at courthouses, while trying to apply for green cards, and while seeking shelter from domestic abuse.
The legislation could go a long way to alleviating the fear and uncertainty building in many immigrant communities. But, unfortunately, it’s not likely to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.