Chris Chmielenski's picture


  by  Chris Chmielenski

Today’s House Judiciary Committee markup of the Davis-Oliver Act (legislation aimed at strengthening interior immigration enforcement) has the pro-amnesty folks in a tizzy. They’re attempting to discredit the bill, but instead, they’re simply making and spreading false claims.

Yesterday’s op-ed published in the Hill by Harris County (TX) Sheriff, Edward Gonzalez, and Dallas County (TX) Sheriff, Lupe Valdez, is no exception. I don’t doubt the commitment of these sheriffs to keep their communities safe, but they should have done more research on the Davis-Oliver Act before writing, or allowing someone else to write on their behalf, the op-ed.

The Davis-Oliver Act was introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and five other original cosponsors, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The bill is 184-pages long and contains a laundry list of provisions, but, when it comes to local law enforcement, it can be characterized in two ways — it “allows” state and local jurisdictions to help with enforcement and “requires” the Feds to help those that choose to do so.

Sheriffs Gonzalez and Valdez claim that the Davis-Oliver Act — named after two California officers gunned down by illegal aliens — “would require us to become agents enforcing federal immigration law.”

That’s false, and the sheriffs only needed to read the first few pages of the bill to find that it’s false.

There are two key words to focus on — “may” and “shall”. Congress uses the word “shall” when something must be done under the law. It uses the word “may” when something can be done, but it’s not required; ultimately, it’s at the discretion of the intended individual or entity.

While the word “shall” shows up more than 300 times in the Davis-Oliver Act, it only applies to states and local jurisdictions in a few places.

States and local jurisdictions shall:

  1. inform DHS whenever they apprehend an alien “who is believed to be inadmissible or deportable”
  2. have a “written policy and a practice to assist in the enforcement of” immigration laws, but only if they wish to receive federal grants that are specifically aimed at helping jurisdictions that opt to enforce immigration laws
  3. cooperate with officials of the Criminal Alien Identification Program, identify criminal aliens in its prison and jail populations, and convey that information to DHS, but only if they wish to receive SCAAP funds -- reimbursement for jailing criminal aliens.

The first requirement is existing law, but the Davis-Oliver Act seeks to strengthen it. The Department of Homeland Security even has to reimburse states and localities for the costs incurred by providing such information. The other two requirements pertain to receiving federal grant money.

The Davis-Oliver Act contains the word “may” nearly 500 times, and in several instances, it applies to states and local jurisdictions. But remember, the word “may” allows a state and local jurisdiction to do something; it doesn’t require them to do so as the sheriffs imply.

The legislation “allows” states and local jurisdictions to pass immigration enforcement laws that are in line with, but don’t exceed, federal immigration laws. It “allows” states and local jurisdictions to enforce federal immigration laws. It “allows” states to enter into agreements with the Feds to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. But, again, nowhere does it require local law enforcement to “become agents enforcing federal immigration law”.

The sheriffs also claim that folks within their communities have become less willing to report crimes after DHS stepped up interior enforcement earlier this year. The Davis-Oliver Act, however, explicitly states:

“Nothing in this section shall require law enforcement officials of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State, to provide the Secretary with information related to a victim of a crime or witness to a criminal offense.”

If crimes aren’t being reported for fear of removal, it’s not the fault of the proposed legislation. It’s the fault of individuals, like Sheriffs Gonzalez and Valdez, who are spreading false rumors about it.

The Davis-Oliver Act is a good step forward in strengthening immigration enforcement, and by allowing states and local jurisdictions to get more involved in enforcement, it acts as a force multiplier for ICE which is already overrun with cases. But the Davis-Oliver Act addresses criminal aliens and potential threats to public safety and doesn’t address the top cause of illegal immigration - the jobs magnet. Requiring all employers to use E-Verify is still the best action that Congress can take to end the magnet.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director, Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

Interior Enforcement
National Security

Updated: Thu, May 18th 2017 @ 3:42pm EDT

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