Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) has invented what she evidently views as a better mousetrap. She has introduced a bill in Congress that would prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from wearing clothing labeled “police,” arguing that the practice is deceptive.
Velázquez said in a statement, according to CNN:
Not only are ICE raids an unconscionable attack on our most vulnerable communities, any attempt by immigration officers to deceivingly pose as local police ought to be prohibited. After holding various ‘Know Your Rights’ workshops in my district, I’ve heard firsthand from families who fear reporting crime or engaging with the police due to the potential of getting caught up with immigration agents. This only makes our communities less safe.
Color me dense, perhaps, but I don’t see what the problem is or how the manner in which ICE agents self-identify would make any difference. Immigrants who are in the U.S. legally have nothing to fear from immigration agents, nor are they likely to have encounters with such agents.
What is more, ICE is a law enforcement agency and its members are police in a very real sense. Sarah Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for ICE, is also quoted in the CNN piece, where she observes:
[“Police”] is the universally recognized term for law enforcement, and our personnel routinely interact with individuals from around the world. In the often-dangerous law enforcement arena, being able to immediately identify yourself as law enforcement may be a life-or-death issue.
It might be helpful if Rep. Velázquez gave some indication of how she would like ICE agents to identify themselves when they meet up with an immigrant who is in the country illegally. I can’t imagine that federales would be much better.