Washington, D.C. – As the Trump Administration plans to target immigrant communities with widespread raids starting on Sunday, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and a group of fifteen Senators in introducing legislation to block immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals, and religious institutions without prior approval and exigent circumstances. The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act codifies the Department of Homeland Security’s existing policies and expands on those policies to ensure that immigrants are able to access education, criminal justice, and social services without fear of deportation.
“It’s disgraceful that ICE is targeting schools, churches and hospitals, preventing immigrant families from going about their daily lives and accessing essential services. There are reports across the country of parents and children who are missing doctor’s appointments, dreading going to school and avoiding reporting domestic violence due to fear of arrest or deportation. This legislation will ensure ICE agents respect existing policies that prohibit indiscriminate immigration enforcement at sensitive locations, keeping families safe and respecting the basic rights of our immigrant communities.”
This legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act requires that, except in special circumstances, ICE agents receive prior approval from a supervisor when there are exigent circumstances before engaging in enforcement actions at sensitive locations, such as: schools, hospitals and health clinics, places of worship, organizations assisting crime victims, and organizations that provide services to children, pregnant women, victims of crime or abuse, or individuals with mental or physical disabilities. The legislation also requires that ICE agents receive annual training and report annually regarding enforcement actions in these locations.
This bill codifies and expands upon rules already in place at ICE, which would provide policy consistency across enforcement agencies and administrations over time, giving immigrant communities certainty that their rights will be respected.
The bill is also supported by more than 300 national, state, and local organizations.