House passes bill to deport immigrants who assault police officers

Thirty-six Democrats joined all House Republicans in supporting the Protect Our Law Enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement Act of 2023.

The House of Representatives approved Thursday a bill that would deport immigrants who assault police officers. Thirty-six Democrats joined all House Republicans to support the bill introduced by Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.). The White House has already expressed its dissatisfaction with its proposal.

Led by speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans supported the bill dubbed the Protect Our Law Enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement Act of 2023, abbreviated to H.R. 2494.

The bill was sponsored by Garbarino and co-sponsored by 16 others. The vote was 255-175, with 36 Democrats adding to all Republicans to reach the final tally.

"As the border crisis rages on unchecked and assaults against law enforcement officers continue to rise, this legislation sends a crystal clear message that any non-citizen who commits acts of violence against police should be subject to deportation," Garbarino said.

Similar legislation was introduced in the previous Congress, but it never reached the House. However, it is no coincidence that it was dealt with in mid-May. The vote coincided with Police Week, a national recognition of law enforcement officers held annually since the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

"It is about improving officer safety and making it easier to remove migrants who have demonstrated flagrant criminal violence while on U.S. soil. I applaud my colleagues in the House for approving this common sense measure and I urge the Senate to take up the POLICE Act without delay to show our men and women in law enforcement that we have their backs as they continue to battle the criminal element currently taking advantage of our unsecured southern border," added the bill’s sponsor.

What does the law do?

Basically, the law would ensure that any immigrant who assaults a law enforcement officer becomes subject to deportation. To make this possible, it would amend the existing code in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Of course, the attack should be tied to certain conditions, such as that the law enforcement officer in question must be on official duty. Regarding terminology, the word "assault" is taken according to the jurisdiction where the act occurred and, as for "law enforcement officer," the legislators refer to a "person who is authorized by the law to apprehend, arrest, or prosecute an individual for any criminal violation, or is a firefighter or other first responder.”

In addition, under an amendment by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), the Department of Homeland Security would be required to publish an annual report detailing the number of illegal immigrants who have been deported for assaulting police officers.

White House response
Through a policy statement, the White House assured that Biden "supports the brave men and women who serve our country as law enforcement officers and believes that anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer should be punished appropriately.” 

That said, they expressed their concerns about the language used in the proposal. "We are concerned, however, that H.R. 2494, as drafted, could potentially sweep up even non-violent or unintentional conduct, resulting in deportation of even long-term lawful permanent residents with otherwise unblemished records," the statement read.