With President Donald Trump looking to make good on his campaign promise to end illegal immigration, two City Council members want to outfit government agents with body cameras to protect the immigrants they seek to deport.
“This is about protecting the rights of a vulnerable population. Immigrants and their families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of whether or not they are documented,” Council Member Mark Levine said in a statement.
Levine is the lead sponsor of a resolution that he and Council Member Carlos Menchaca introduced Thursday that urges Congress and Trump to sign legislation that would require body cameras to be worn by all Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
“This is a policy that would help ensure the fair treatment of all human beings as they interact with ICE,” Levine continued. “There’s a clear need for greater transparency, given the increasing number of reports of ICE agents using disproportionate amounts of force during arrests and targeting nonviolent immigrants and their families for deportation.”
While the cameras aim to protect immigrants, Menchaca, who is also chair of the Committee on Immigration, added that they would also reduce complaints against ICE and CBP agents during field operations and removal proceedings.
“In recent years, many law enforcement agencies in the United States have required their officers to wear body cameras when conducting arrests or interacting with the community, in order to increase accountability and build the public’s trust in law enforcement officials,” Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said. “We should apply this same approach to immigration enforcement.”
One of the first executive orders Trump issued after taking office in January tightened immigration and border security. By May, more than 41,000 undocumented individuals were arrested by ICE, a 38 percent jump from the same period in 2016.
A University of Florida study conducted between 2014 and 2015 showed a 53 percent drop in use-of-force incidents, a 65 percent decline in civilian complaints and a “significant” decrease in officer and civilian injuries when body cameras were worn by law enforcement.