February 17, 2017

Udall, Heinrich Seek Meeting with Immigration Officials, Answers about Constituents' Concerns about Raids, Immigrant Roundups

'We are already hearing from our constituents that ICE is expanding enforcement activities and innocent people no longer feel safe in their own neighborhoods'

WASHINGTON - Today, amid news reports that the Trump administration had considered - but scrapped - a plan to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich demanded a meeting and answers from immigration officials about whether the agency has made changes in response to President Trump's Jan. 25 immigration executive orders, and whether it would take steps to ensure New Mexicans can continue to seek health care and other essential services without fear.

Both senators have heard disturbing reports that innocent people are being targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The senators also condemn the idea, which was reported in the media today and later disavowed by the administration, of militarizing immigration enforcement by mobilizing tens of thousands of National Guard personnel to round up and remove immigrants. The senators pointed out in their letter that one consequence of Trump's immigration orders and rhetoric is that fear is spreading, and many people now are afraid to seek health care and send their children to school.

"We are already hearing from our constituents that ICE is expanding enforcement activities and innocent people no longer feel safe in their own neighborhoods," the senators wrote. "Given the impact of the administration's new enforcement priorities on New Mexico, we request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss these issues and to determine a path forward that reinstates a humane and sensible immigration policy."

Specifically, the senators want to know what changes ICE has implemented in New Mexico to comply with President Trump's orders, and whether ICE will make a commitment to not conduct enforcement operations near schools, churches, hospitals, court houses and other places where people seek necessary care and services.

Additionally, the senators wrote, the orders significantly expand the scope of ICE's removal priorities and divert already thin resources away from removing violent criminals, leaving communities at greater risk.

"The President's EOs aggressively ramp up immigration enforcement against individuals who pose no threat to the nation and make innocent immigrants deportation priorities," the senators wrote. "The EOs also call for tripling the number of ICE agents and add thousands of new Border Patrol agents - despite the lack of funding available to do so. Perhaps most troubling, the EOs impose draconian federal funding cuts on local communities that refuse to comply with the administration's policies and coerces local law enforcement to serve as de facto immigration enforcement agents. These policies are already causing significant problems in our local communities, as immigrants no longer feel safe reporting crimes to local police out of fear of being deported."

ICE agents have a hard job, and the senators respect their work. Given the limited resources, the administration should not waste time and taxpayer money targeting "hardworking immigrants who are contributing to our nation and looking to make a better life for themselves and their families," the senators wrote, saying that they are particularly concerned about young people who are covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or their families. "These individuals came forward based on the promise that our government would not deport them and provided personal information about themselves and their families. To use this against them would be an unconscionable breach of trust by our government," the senators wrote.

The full letter can be found here and below:


The Honorable Thomas D. Homan
Acting Director
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th St., SW
Washington, D.C. 20536

Dear Acting Director Homan:

We write to express concerns about the detrimental impact the Trump administration's new policies for immigration enforcement operations are having in communities across New Mexico.

As you know, the previous administration deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants in the country. However, they used Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) limited resources to focus on removing individuals who were violent criminals, felons, and others who posed a threat to national security.

The Executive Orders (EO) issued by President Trump on January 25, 2017, significantly expand the scope of ICE's removal priorities and divert resources away from focusing on violent individuals and serious security threats. The President's EOs aggressively ramps up immigration enforcement against individuals who pose no threat to the nation and make innocent immigrants deportation priorities. The EOs also call for tripling the number of ICE agents and add thousands of new Border Patrol agents - despite the lack of funding available to do so.

Perhaps most troubling, the EOs impose draconian federal funding cuts on local communities who refuse to comply with the administration's policies and coerces local law enforcement to serve as de facto immigration enforcement agents. These policies are already causing significant problems in our local communities, as immigrants no longer feel safe reporting crimes to local police out of fear of being deported.

Given the limited resources ICE has, the administration should not be prioritizing hardworking immigrants who are contributing to our nation and looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. Moreover, President Trump must not take any actions to remove Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients or their families. These individuals came forward based on the promise that our government would not deport them and provided personal information about themselves and their families. To use this against them would be an unconscionable breach of trust by our government.

We are already hearing from our constituents that ICE is expanding enforcement activities and innocent people no longer feel safe in their own neighborhoods.

Given the impact of the administration's new enforcement priorities on New Mexico, we request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss these issues and to determine a path forward that reinstates a humane and sensible immigration policy.

Prior to that meeting, please provide our staffs with the following information:

1. What specific changes has ICE implemented in New Mexico to comply with President Trump's EOs?

2. Will ICE commit to not conducting enforcement operations at locations where people are seeking necessary care or services, such as schools, churches, hospitals and court houses?

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.