New York Congressmen Adriano Espaillat and Jose Serrano have introduced a bill that would make it illegal for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to make arrests or carry out raids in schools, churches, or hospitals. Our Washington bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta has the story.
Congressmen Adriano Espaillat and José Serrano say Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and his agency are not respecting a regulation that says immigration raids and arrests should be avoided in locations like schools, churches, and hospitals.
"General Kelly said that the regulations are there, but we are hearing from our colleagues and their constituents — as well as mine — that, in fact, this is not the way that ICE is conducting their regular business," Espaillat said.
"So we want to make sure that they adhere to the letter of the law," Espaillat continued.
The lawmakers didn't mince any words. They say ICE is lying about the way it's carrying out its procedures.
"ICE is not telling us the truth. ICE has regulations that say there are sensitive areas where they're not supposed to go," Serrano said. "A church, a food pantry, a courthouse, a hospital, a funeral, a wedding — these kinds of things."
"And yet they go and they do it, they show up at these places," Serrano continued.
The congressmen say there's photographic proof of ICE in places like churches. Serrano says his constituents are afraid:
"'Is it true I can't go to church on Sunday because ICE will be there?'" Serrano said, repeating questions constituents have posed. "'Is it true I can't drop my kid off at the school bus?'"
The bill so far has 24 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. Espaillat says Republican lawmakers shouldn't have a problem.
"I am sure that many Republicans feel that a church ground is out of the parameters of the law, that it should not be violated, that an ICE agent should not interrogate, arrest, and eventually deport someone that goes to worship his or her God," Espaillat said.
"As a matter of policy, ICE does not comment on pending legislation," Sarah Rodriguez, ICE's acting deputy press secretary, said after we reached out for comment.