Titus Opposes House Passage of Anti-Immigrant Bill

Sep 14, 2017
Press Release

September 14, 2017

Las Vegas – Today Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District released the following statement after the U.S. House passed H.R. 3697, the so-called “Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act.”

The legislation creates new grounds for removal of “gang members,” but the bill’s poorly-written and broad language captures many individuals who have no involvement in any gang activity: members of the religious community, humanitarian workers, and green-card holders, among others. The bill strips away due process rights by allowing law enforcement to take action based on the mere belief of an association with criminal activity. There have been no hearings, no mark-ups, and no opportunities to offer amendments.  More than 350 local, state, and national immigrant, civil rights, human rights, faith-based, and anti-poverty organizations oppose the legislation.

“A vote for this bill is a vote to attack, profile and deport immigrants. I stand with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to say that this legislation’s dangerous and sweeping provisions ignore due process rights and change the definition of ‘criminal gang’ to target nuns, ministers, rabbis, humanitarian workers, and others who harbor immigrants who are often fleeing danger. Instead of infringing on constitutional rights and ramming through bills without normal order, Republicans should work with Democrats to debate and pass comprehensive reform bills to fix our nation’s broken immigration system and fight crime.”

BACKGROUND H.R. 3697

Denies Admission to Individuals on the Mere Belief of Wrongdoing.

  • The bill denies the admission of many categories of immigrants—including persons sponsored for family- and employment-based green cards, as well as certain lawful permanent residents returning from abroad—based on nothing more than an immigration officer having a “reason to believe” of an affiliation to gang or certain other criminal activity.
  • Under this bill, many immigrants could be denied admission or even deported with little due process based on no real evidence of a gang affiliation.  The “reason to believe” standard is a low burden of proof similar to probable cause, and it does not require a conviction or even an arrest.  The government need only have grounds to “believe” an affiliation to certain wrongdoing.

Classifies Religious Workers and Humanitarian Aid Workers as Gang Members.

  • The bill refers to a broad range of criminal activity, including the “harboring” of immigrants under INA § 274.  This “harboring” provision is not restricted to those in the business of smuggling immigrants, but includes anyone who provides shelter, transportation, or support to undocumented immigrants.  The federal courts have found that “harboring” includes offering a known undocumented individual a place to stay.  This statute has been used against religious workers, as well as persons who live with undocumented family members.   
  • As noted above, the bill would not even require a criminal conviction (or even an arrest) in order to support a finding of harboring for purposes of this provision.  Instead, the mere belief of involvement in harboring could be used to classify individuals as criminal gang members.
  • This provision could thus be used against religious or humanitarian workers who provide aid to undocumented immigrants.  The bill thus would turn nuns who assist undocumented immigrants into gang members overnight.  And it is retroactive, so any non-citizen religious or humanitarian aid worker who has harbored an undocumented immigrant in the past could be detained and deported.