If you’re an immigrant and in a gang, you should be deported, some Republicans say.
On Thursday the Republican-led House passed a new bill to remove immigrants from the U.S., just for associating with “the wrong people.”
“It’s time we stand up for our children and end this brutal gang violence occurring in our neighborhoods, once and for all,” House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on Twitter after the bill, known as the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, passed.
The bill makes being a member of a gang a deportable offense. No need to wait for the person to commit a crime —just being a gang member is enough.
“The bill targets immigrants for detention and deportation even if they have not committed a crime or been suspected of committing a crime,” said the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) in a statement about the bill.
The way the bill is written, NIJC said, it allows the Department of Homeland Security to “target groups as varied as churches and fraternities for designation as a criminal gang.”
Normally, a felony conviction results in deportation. With the new law, an expired driver’s license could result in deportation.
“Illegal immigrants or not, dangerous criminal gang members must not be allowed to continue to freely roam the streets of America,” Idaho Representative Raúl Labrador, who co-wrote the new law, tweeted.
Ryan said that the bill is meant to target the violent street gang MS-13. Many MS-13 gang members are U.S. citizens. The gang was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s before spreading to El Salvador and other American cities.
President Donald Trump cited MS-13 during a “Make America Great Again” rally in Ohio on July 23. The White House wrote Tuesday that Trump supports the new law because it’s consistent with his priorities and “strengthens law enforcement’s ability to fight transnational criminal gangs.”
“The bill broadly overreaches and puts Americans and immigrants at risk of being unjustly profiled,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
“The sweeping discretion given to enforcement officials is so dangerously broad,” she said, “it would classify nuns who assist undocumented immigrants as gang members.”
Under #HR3697, immigrants could be denied admission or even deported w little due process based on no real evidence of a gang affiliation.
— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudDems) September 14, 2017