Blumenthal Praises Senate Judiciary Committee’s Passage Of Amendments Limiting Intrusion By Immigration Enforcement Agencies, Allowing Dreamers To Serve In The Military

Senate Judiciary Committee Passed Four Other Amendments Sponsored By Blumenthal, Including Amendments To Prevent Human Trafficking And Overuse Of Solitary Confinement

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage yesterday of six amendments he sponsored, including an amendment to prevent U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from raiding schools, hospitals, and religious institutions without prior approval. The amendment passed the committee yesterday by voice vote. The Committee has already passed two other Blumenthal amendments (Blumenthal 10, Blumenthal 18).

“Random raids by ICE and CBP agents in schools, churches, hospitals and other sensitive locations deter immigrants from attending school, practicing their faith, and accessing essential and, in some instances, life-saving medical services for themselves and their family members – many of whom are U.S. citizens,” Blumenthal said. “This amendment ensures that ICE and CBP focus their limited law enforcement resources on those who pose a real threat to public safety, not schoolchildren, church parishioners, or pregnant mothers who are going to see the doctor.”
 
The amendment, Blumenthal 8 (1st Degree Amendment 2nd Degree Amendment), requires that, except in the case of exigent circumstances, ICE and CBP agents receive prior approval from a supervisor before engaging in enforcement actions in the following locations: 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 amendment also requires that ICE and CBP agents receive annual training and report annually regarding enforcement actions in these locations.
 
“Random raids by ICE and CBP create a climate of fear that affects not only the individuals they seek to arrest, but the entire community –  undermining the willingness of communities to cooperate with these organizations,” Blumenthal said. “These raids are particularly problematic for children in mixed-status families whose parents might choose to keep them home from school or refuse to get them necessary medical attention out of fear of deportation.” 
 
Blumenthal 8 codifies rules already in place at both ICE and CBP. These rules were put in place by the Clinton Administration in 1993 and continued by the Bush Administration. ICE and CBP have shown that these rules do not impede effective enforcement. In addition, codification of these rules would ensure policy consistency across enforcement agencies and administrations over time, giving immigrant communities certainty that their rights will be respected.
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee also passed an amendment sponsored by Blumenthal that would allow DREAMers – immigrants brought to this country before the age of 16 – to naturalize while serving in the military just as they can under current law. The immigration bill, as originally drafted, would have prevented noncitizen service members from naturalizing.
 
“Many military jobs – including all commissioned officer positions – can only be performed by citizens,” Blumenthal said. “This amendment would allow DREAMers to serve in these positions, thereby increasing the readiness of our ranks.”
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed four other amendments sponsored by Blumenthal, including an amendment that would crack down on the overuse of solitary confinement in immigration detention centers and three amendments that would combat human trafficking and foreign labor recruitment abuses. These amendments passed by voice vote yesterday and are listed below by topic.
 
Solitary Confinement 
 
Blumenthal 2 – Solitary Confinement: This amendment brings transparency, accountability, and due process to the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention, while leaving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the flexibility to use solitary confinement when necessary and appropriate. It also limits the overuse of solitary confinement against vulnerable groups like the mentally ill, children, and LGBT persons.
 
Human Trafficking/Foreign Labor Recruiters 

Blumenthal 3 – Enforcement: This amendment makes the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions in S.744 more effective by allowing workers who have been victims of recruiter violations to seek recourse against their employers, if, and only if, the employers have chosen to contract with an unregistered, unregulated foreign labor recruiter. 

Blumenthal 4 – Regulations: This amendment requires DHS to consult with the Department of Labor when developing regulations to implement the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions of S.744 (Title III, Subtitle F). 

Blumenthal 5 – Transparency (1st Degree Amendment  2nd Degree Amendment): This amendment enhances the disclosure and transparency provisions of the anti-human trafficking and foreign labor recruiter provisions of S.744 (Title III, Subtitle F). The amendment requires foreign labor recruiters to inform recruited temporary workers of plans regarding the renewal of a temporary worker visa and of their right not to have their contract changed without their informed consent. In addition, the amendment requires employers who use foreign labor recruiters to report who is responsible for paying the recruiter. Finally, this amendment makes other technical changes to Title III, Subtitle F.