Chairman Crowley Introduces Bill to Hold ICE, Border Patrol Agents Accountable

May 31, 2018
Press Release

(Queens, NY) – Today, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) announced new legislation that would mandate stricter scrutiny and oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection by establishing a formal record-keeping process of all stops and searches by the two agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act would require ICE and CBP officers to report every time they stop an individual and submit details of that interaction to Congress. Under current law, the officers are not required to disclose this information unless there is an arrest or force used by the officer. The legislation was first introduced in the Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and was co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

“After years of reports of unnecessary force and unlawful stops, it is time that ICE and CBP agents are held accountable. In order to better protect our country, as well as the rights of every person, we need data on every encounter and stricter oversight of these agencies who’ve become the key enforcers of President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda,” said Chairman Crowley. “ICE and Border Patrol agents are no exception to transparency and oversight.”

“Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. When border patrol agents question bus and train passengers about their immigration status, they aren’t required to collect any information about why they targeted a particular person or what happened during their encounter. Congress has a responsibility to make sure there are transparency and accountability during these stops,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to work with Congressman Crowley on this important issue and will continue fighting in the Senate to pass the Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act to require our border patrol agencies to collect detailed records about every stop they make. This legislation would help ensure that our agents are serving the public as effectively as possible without violating people’s basic human rights.”

The Department of Homeland Security and ICE have increasingly used forceful tactics when stopping and apprehending immigrants in the United States. In a stark contrast to previous policies, President Trump’s administration has empowered ICE agents to arrest immigrants in hospitals, at courthouses, and in houses of worship.

Crowley’s Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Actwould require any ICE or CPB officer or agent to disclose, among other things, the reason for stopping an individual, the individual’s characteristics, if force was used or if an arrest was made, and the badge number of the law enforcement officer present. This data would be reported to Congress and would be accessible by the public.

This legislation is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition, the National Immigration Forum, the Southern Border Coalition, the Asian American Federation, Make the Road New York, and the Niskanen Center.