The Michael Davis, Jr. and Danny Oliver in Honor of State and Local Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 2431) purports to empower states and localities to take action against serious criminals who have violated immigration law.2 In reality, the bill is a vehicle for a massive expansion of the federal government and of federal power over states and their citizens.
The legislation imposes new mandates on states and uses federal grants to coerce them into following the bidding of the federal authorities. These requirements undermine the federalist system that the Founders intended. Even where it does grant certain state agencies greater powers, it does so while undermining the authority of the state legislatures. It authorizes state and local law enforcement personnel to enforce immigration laws without any authorization from their state legislature to do so and without any training.
The powers that it authorizes will inevitably lead to violations of the civil liberties and privacy of ordinary Americans. Any state official who suspects someone of violating immigration law can demand that they prove their status in the United States and hold them if they fail to do so — all without so much as a request from the federal agencies. It grants states access to federal surveillance databases that include U.S. citizens, compromising Americans’ privacy.
Its provisions that criminalize illegal presence and ordinary status violations would unnecessarily turn millions of peaceful people into criminals and push America further down the road of overcriminalization. This bill would impose billions of dollars in costs on taxpayers with very little benefit.