- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Border Security, Facilitation, and OperationsCommittee on Homeland SecurityImmigration and CitizenshipIntroducedFebruary 6th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 1013?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1013
In-Depth: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require ICE and CBP officers to wear body cameras while on duty:
“I introduced the ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act to ensure that agents and officers of ICE and CBP wear body cameras when they are engaged in official operations. This bill will help address the numerous concerning reports where immigration agents used coercive methods to extract information and fabricated the testimonies from immigrants, including DACA beneficiaries – Daniel Ramirez Medina, Sara Beltran-Hernandez, Oscar Ramirez, Thermon Brewster, and Jeanette Vizguerra are a few that come to mind. Both undocumented immigrants and green card holders are terrified to leave their homes, and having once been formerly undocumented myself, I know understand this fear and its impact. That is why this legislation is so important. When the cameras are on, we will be watching to ensure that the civil rights of these individuals are not violated.”
In a joint op-ed in the New York Daily News, Rep. Espaillat, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and New York public advocate Letitia James wrote that body cameras are needed to help protect everyone’s rights, regardless of immigration status:
“In our fight to resist policies put forth by the Trump administration, we must stand up for the rights of everyone living in the U.S., including immigrants, regardless of their status. Those universal rights are particularly vulnerable during ICE raids and while individuals are initially in federal custody, when the decision to remain silent or to request an attorney could easily determine the outcome of the proceedings. The ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act and the ICE Body Camera Act would require immigration, customs and border patrol agents to wear and use body cameras during field operations, and make footage available for use in court. An accurate record of interactions with agents is imperative, all the more so in light of troubling reports suggesting that immigration agents sometimes use coercive methods to extract information. For example, reports have surfaced on Staten Island alleging that ICE agents showed up at immigrants' homes with a picture of a man, saying they needed help in finding someone who was supposedly dangerous, and that once the door opened ICE agents conducted an arrest. Also on Staten Island, ICE agents allegedly identified themselves as police at the door. Now that Trump has dramatically ratcheted up deportations, many immigrants in New York City and across the United States fear a knock on the door in the middle of the night or checkpoints on their drive home from work. Immigrants are right to be concerned about the possibility of abuse, particularly when individuals detained by ICE have severely limited access to attorneys and to the due process of law or may have limited English proficiency. It is critical that we establish procedures that protect their rights as they face the possibility of deportation.”
In a meeting with House Democrats and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he’d be open to body cameras for ICE and CBP if the funding were to be made available through the department.
Rep. Espaillat has been calling for body cameras for CBP and ICE for years. In an August 2, 2017 letter to CBP after government surveillance video obtained by ABC News showed two CBP officers attempting to encourage, or at least permit, a 16-year-old Mexican high schooler to drink from a bottle containing concentrated liquid methamphetamine, Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Rep. Espaillat called the officers’ actions “appalling” and advocated for body cameras:
“This incident is incredibly troubling and could have been prevented. It also emphasizes the need for CBP and ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] body cameras, as well as proper officer vetting and training. The officer’s actions toward this teenage boy are entirely deplorable and unprofessional.”
ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke says his agency doesn’t comment on proposed legislation, but did say that ICE remains “dedicated to conducting immigration enforcement humanely, respectfully, and with professionalism."
Critics of body cameras point out that some studies show they have no statistically significant effect on the number of use-of-force incidents and civilian complaints recorded in police departments. Others — including the ACLU, which generally supports body cameras — acknowledge that body cameras can bring downsides for privacy. However, to the second point, it’s worth noting that some police departments have policies in place for special circumstances in which officers aren’t allowed to record; and this could be a route for ICE and CBP to take, as well.
Of Note: Body cameras have been adopted by police departments in 43 of out of 68 major cities in the U.S. A recent study found that law enforcement officers’ use of body cameras resulted in 93 percent fewer complaints from the public and increased accountability on both sides, helping to quell potentially volatile encounters.
- Sponsoring Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) Introductory Remarks
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and New York Public Advocate Letitia James Op-Ed
- Washington Examiner
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Cylonphoto)