As illegal immigration at the southern border surges, Republicans in the House introduced legislation that would force the Biden administration to immediately deport any illegal immigrant or non-citizen who assaults a police officer.
The bill, introduced on Tuesday, comes amid a rash of violence perpetrated by illegal immigrants and other non-citizens. Just last month, a female border patrol agent was assaulted by an illegal immigrant as she was making an arrest.
Republican lawmakers blame the Biden administration’s lax enforcement of border restrictions for the surge in illegal immigrants, saying that a rise in violent crime is a byproduct of the border crisis.
"As the Biden border crisis rages on, I have serious concerns about the ramifications for law enforcement officers who are on the front lines dealing with migrants," Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R., N.Y.), who is spearheading the legislation, told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. "Whether on Long Island or at the southern border, there should be no ambiguity that assaulting a police officer is a deportable offense for non-citizens."
Garbarino’s bill, dubbed the POLICE Act, would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act so that any assault on a law enforcement officer results in deportation. The bill is co-sponsored by six additional GOP lawmakers and is likely to garner traction in the Republican-controlled House, where immigration issues remain a top concern. Senate passage of the legislation would be more difficult with Democrats in control.
There has been a sharp increase since Biden took office in the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border who have been convicted of violent crimes, including domestic violence and murder. Customs and Border Patrol in 2022 apprehended more than 12,000 such illegal immigrants. Nearly 11,000 were apprehended in 2021 compared to just 2,438 illegal immigrants with criminal records apprehended in 2020. Additionally, nearly 140 non-citizen sex offenders were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during a November 2022 operation.
Supporters of the legislation say it is necessary to combat a surge in violence that has spilled past the southern border and is endangering American communities across the country.
In Long Island, N.Y., for instance, two officers were injured when they responded to a 2021 disturbance at the Mercy First youth facility, where around 50 unaccompanied illegal minors were being housed. The incident drew national headlines and sparked fierce debate about the Biden administration’s decision to place illegal immigrants in American communities.
"Whether the administration admits it or not, there is a crisis at our southern border and Americans are less safe because of it," Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R., Iowa), a supporter of the bill, said in a statement. "Making violence against law enforcement officers a deportable offense is a commonsense proposal."
Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.), another supporter of the legislation, said the surge at the southern border is allowing criminals to operate in the United States.
"The chaos at our southern border opens the door to human traffickers, gang members and other dangerous criminals who enter our country with malicious intentions," Smith said. Open borders threaten "the safety of our citizens and our police officers who serve as our first line of defense against crime."