WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA-1) authored the following op-ed for the Washington Examiner about the Empowering Law Enforcement Act (ELEA), legislation that would grant inherent immigration authority to state and local law enforcement in response to the border crisis. The op-ed highlights how the Biden administration has hamstrung federal immigration authorities, preventing them from enforcing the laws on our books and creating the immediate need to delegate immigration enforcement powers to state and local law enforcement. Senator Tuberville introduced the ELEA in the U.S. Senate, and Representative Carter introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
If Biden Won’t Enforce U.S. Immigration Law, States and Locals Governments Should
Bill would give state and local law enforcement the authority to detain illegal immigrants
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville & U.S. Representative Buddy Carter
August 30, 2021
If you need something done right, then do it yourself, as the old saying goes. But when it comes to enforcing U.S. immigration laws, state and local enforcement are prevented from doing it themselves, even while federal law enforcement officers are directed not to take certain enforcement actions, a policy established by the Biden administration in January 2021. With a rapidly deteriorating border, it’s long past time that changed.
The crisis on our southern border worsens by the day. Since President Biden’s inauguration, at least 1 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended entering the country: an average of almost 200,000 per month according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). To put that number into perspective, it’s as if the administration’s open border policies are adding a city bigger than the population of Montgomery, Alabama or Savannah, Georgia every single month with no end in sight.
At President Biden’s directive, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dropped by almost 50 percent in the first five months of his term, despite the record-high illegal border crossings. At least 50,000 illegal immigrants have been released into the U.S. without a court date. And while the Biden administration mandates American citizens wear masks regardless of vaccination status, they continue releasing COVID-positive illegal immigrants into the country.
President Biden has shown little interest in fixing the situation himself. His chosen point-person for the crisis, Vice President Harris, has been an unmitigated disaster, making a single trip to the border and hundreds of miles away from the highest level of illegal crossings.
If the federal government won’t secure the border, then state and local law enforcement should be empowered to do so. Our bill, the Empowering Law Enforcement Act (ELEA), does just that.
Under current law, state and local law enforcement must have a pre-existing agreement with ICE to detain an illegal immigrant. But the ELEA would grant state and local law enforcement inherent immigration enforcement authority to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain or transfer an illegal immigrant into federal custody. This bill would give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary flexibility on how long a criminal alien may be detained, extending the 180-day period to ensure violent criminals are not released into U.S. communities. The legislation also reimburses state and local authorities for related incarceration and transportation costs.
The ELEA is about common sense. We’ve got thousands of law enforcement officers ready to step up and enforce the law. We wish this legislation were not necessary. We wish the federal government would do its job and administer the immigration laws as written by Congress. But if the Biden administration continues to handcuff CBP and ICE officers, then state and local law enforcement must be given the tools to do the job and protect their communities.
President Biden and his administration have failed our law enforcement and the American people with their reckless open border policies. Congress should move quickly to pass the Empowering Law Enforcement Act so that states and towns can do their part to enforce the law and end this crisis.
Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, is a United States Senator from Alabama. Buddy Carter, a Republican, is a United States Representative from Georgia’s 1st Congressional District.