A group of Democratic senators introduced a bill last week that addresses southwest border challenges while improving Department of Homeland Security (DHS) border community engagement.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM) joined colleagues in supporting the Homeland Security Improvement Act, which establishes an ombudsman for border and immigration enforcement-related concerns within DHS to better ensure accountability, transparency, and oversight.
“The atrocities being committed at our southern border shock the conscience,” Wyden said. “I have seen firsthand how a new system is desperately needed to shed a light on the Department of Homeland Security’s cruel and inhumane practices so that swift action can be taken to right the Trump administration’s many wrongs.”
The legislation seeks to require community input on enforcement policies and programs and improve transparency by requiring robust reporting on actions and operations. DHS currently develops its own rules and policies for operations along the border without input from stakeholders, particularly border communities.
“At every turn, the Trump administration has chosen policies that demonize immigrant communities—proving time and time again that it cares more about creating a climate of fear than treating human beings with fairness and respect,” Merkley said. “That’s why it couldn’t be more important for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection to treat human and civil rights violations with the seriousness they deserve. This legislation works to promote that vision by requiring transparency and oversight over ICE and CBP investigations and officer training.”