July 11, 2019

Harris, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Block Immigration Raids at Schools, Hospitals, Courthouses and Churches

Increased ICE presence at schools, courthouses, churches, and hospitals foments fear and deters immigrants from receiving an education, reporting domestic abuse and other crimes, and seeking social services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Trump Administration reportedly plans to target immigrant communities with widespread, indiscriminate raids starting on Sunday, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and 14 of their colleagues in introducing legislation 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 on those policies to ensure that immigrants are able to access education, criminal justice, and social services without fear of deportation.

“The president and his administration have spent years demonizing immigrants and stoking fear in immigrant communities that must end,” said Senator Harris. “The priority of law enforcement officers should be promoting the safety of the communities they protect, not rounding up immigrants at schools, hospitals, and places of worship. A victim of a crime should be able to run into the street and flag down a police officer instead of being made to feel like the criminal. We must take action to keep our communities safe for everyone.”

Along with Harris and Blumenthal, this legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

The bill is also supported by more than 300 national, state, and local organizations.

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.

This bill codifies and expands upon rules already in place at ICE, which would provide policy consistency across enforcement agencies and administrations over time, giving immigrant communities certainty that their rights will be respected.