WASHINGTON - Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced legislation this week to block immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals and religious institutions without prior approval and exigent circumstances.
The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act codifies the Department of Homeland Security's existing policies and expands them to ensure that immigrants are able to access education, criminal justice and social services without fear of deportation, according to a news release from the senators, which continues below:
"As Donald Trump continues his racist, extremist immigration agenda, it's critical to protect access to fundamental services and institutions," Wyden said. "No one should have to fear deportation while taking their children to school or practicing their faith at their place of worship. I won't stop fighting until the Trump administration reverses course on its horrific immigration strategy of abuse and intimidation."
"Everyone in America needs to be able to go to school, receive medical attention, or seek justice for a crime, free from fear that doing so would endanger them or their families," Merkley said. "The Trump administration ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to conduct massive raids pushes immigrant families further into the shadows and threatens to separate more families, jeopardizing the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness bestowed upon each and every one of us. It's time for Congress to make sure that anyone can go to school, a hospital, or religious institution without fear."
The bill, led by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is also co-sponsored by Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
The bill is also supported by more than 300 national, state, and local organizations.
"The administration's threat of massive immigration raids is a reminder of why it's essential to safeguard places like schools and health care facilities from immigration enforcement actions. Our interviews with parents and early childhood providers revealed that parents across the country are afraid to take their children to child care, school, or the doctor for fear of coming into contact with immigration agents. We're proud to endorse Senator Blumenthal's Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, a bill that will help provide immigrant families with the peace of mind to carry out these essential activities," Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, said.
The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act requires that, except in special circumstances, ICE agents receive prior approval from a supervisor when there are exigent circumstances before engaging in enforcement actions at sensitive locations, such as: schools, hospitals and health clinics, places of worship, organizations assisting crime victims, and organizations that provide services to children, pregnant women, victims of crime or abuse or individuals with mental or physical disabilities. The legislation also requires that ICE agents receive annual training and report annually regarding enforcement actions in these locations.