The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would make it easier for the government to deport illegal immigrants who are also criminal gang members.
The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act passed by a vote of 233-175, largely along party lines. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R., Va.) introduced the bill last week, and it now has a handful of co-sponsors.
The bill would require illegal immigrants in the United States who become affiliated with gangs be detained and deported. It would ensure gang members are not able to receive immigration benefits, including asylum, special immigrant juvenile status or temporary protected status.
Eleven Democrats joined almost every House Republican—except for Michigan Rep. Justin Amash—in supporting the legislation, the Hill noted.
Supporters of the legislation said change is necessary because witnesses often fear retribution by the accused, making it difficult to convict gang suspects, according to the Hill.
"It will ensure that when ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] positively identifies a known alien gang member, they may act immediately," said Comstock.
President Donald Trump applauded the House for passing the bill, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement indicating that Trump wants the Senate to pass the bill soon.
"President Donald J. Trump applauds Congress for taking steps to strengthen our Nation's immigration laws with H.R. 3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act," the statement said. "This bill provides law enforcement with the tools they need to improve domestic security and restore public safety by denying criminal alien gang members admission to the United States. President Trump has always made the safety of Americans his highest priority, and encourages the Senate to take quick action and pass this bill."
The White House previously said that if the legislation was passed in the form it was introduced, the president would sign it.