WASHINGTON – Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) called on Congress to block funding for the Trump administration’s restrictions on travel from several Muslim-majority nations, which she said is connected to the effort to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Before I was talking about abolishing the Muslim ban and stopping the Muslim ban, I was talking about ending and abolishing ICE. In so many ways for many of us it’s so interconnected – this kind of criminalization, this kind of militarization of our communities needs to stop,” Tlaib said on Monday evening during an event with other lawmakers who support defunding the implementation of the travel ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last year.
Following her speech, Tlaib, one of two Muslim women e Congress this year, was asked to elaborate on why she thinks the travel ban and ICE are “interconnected.”
“I represent a diverse community and so much of that is criminalization of people of color based on their background. And because I represent a huge Latino community and, you know, I lived without ICE, I lived in southwest Detroit and so without ICE there, ICE was not there before 2003, and so much of those policies, you know, you don’t see ICE at the border, you see them in our communities,” Tlaib told PJM.
“And one of our two schools, they’re not supposed to do any operations and if you Google me, literally, while I was a state representative, twice, ICE did operations near our school, which is against their own policies,” she added. “So it’s targeting; it’s targeting the same people based on the same ideology, right. I just feel like that increased criminalization and militarization of our communities in that way is just wrong and un-American. We can do that and be safe without having to target people of color.”
Critics of the effort to abolish ICE argue that ICE agents are needed to remove undocumented immigrants who commit crimes in the interior of the country. In response to that argument, Tlaib said, “Before that [ICE], I was an immigration attorney and INS had a whole division of CBP and field operators who did that. CBP did it.”
When asked if she would support going back to the pre-ICE system of removing undocumented immigrants, Tlaib replied, “I think that we need to really fully dive into ICE operations and the fact that they are violating their own policies – churches, schools and funerals are off-limits [for enforcement] and they’re still doing operations in those communities and making people feel less safe.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was asked if he thinks the attempt to block the travel ban or “Muslim ban” should be connected to an effort to defund ICE.
“We have a horribly unjust system of immigration enforcement in this country where we perceive people to be threats to the United States based on their skin color, the language that they speak or where they come from,” Murphy said. “Ultimately, we need to reform the way our immigration system is run in this country.”
Murphy said there are “a lot of Republicans in the Senate who are very uncomfortable” with the travel ban.
“Most Republican Senate colleagues laughed at candidate Trump when he proposed this two years ago. Ultimately, we’ve got to get those Republicans to support adding a provision to an appropriations bill that denies the use of funds for the implementation of this ban – that’s admittedly a heavy lift in the Senate,” he said.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) explained that she is reintroducing a bill to prohibit “one dollar” from going toward the implementation of the travel ban. In the last session of Congress, Murphy sponsored the Senate version of Chu’s bill.
“It’s more important than ever that Congress makes clear that the president does not have the authority to discriminate against whole classes of people after the Supreme Court upheld the ban last year,” Chu said on Monday.
House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said legislation that blocks the travel ban is something that could pass the House.
“I do, I think it’s something the Democratic caucus would be very supportive of,” she said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said that Trump has not been able to construct a border wall but there is “an invisible wall” around certain Muslim-majority countries due to the travel ban.
“I am committed to fully fighting this Muslim ban and its hateful policies and making sure that once and for all that we get rid of this stain on our country’s history,” she said at the event, organized by the National Iranian American Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and OXFAM.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) also joined the group of lawmakers advocating for defunding the travel ban.