Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., in a video interview made public this week doubled down on her calls to defund key immigration agencies, while warning against efforts by the Biden administration to increase technology at the border.
Tlaib, a key member of the “Squad,” which has called for looser immigration restrictions and the abolition of agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), spoke to Just Futures Law – a legal group that fights for “a future beyond deportation and criminalization.” The full interview was uploaded online on Wednesday.
Tlaib was asked about the push by the Biden administration to increase money spent on border technology for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) border request includes $665 million in investments toward modernizing land ports of entry and $47 million to invest in detection capabilities in addition to investments in border surveillance technology.
But activists have expressed concern that such funding, along with other methods like facial recognition and DNA testing, are used to ultimately prevent migrants from entering the U.S. Tlaib was asked how they could “turn the tide” at the congressional level on the funding for such methods.
“Look, the simple answer to that question is we must eliminate funding for CBP, ICE and their parent organization, DHS,” she said.
“Time after time we have seen it as advocates on the ground, as human services agencies on the ground continue to see over and over again, that these agencies are inept to humanely guiding migrants through our immigration system and instead they further continue to terrorize migrant communities located within our communities,” she said.
However, she claimed that this radical stance of opposing increased technology is supported by many new Democrats in Congress,
“This approach is something that many, especially the new members of Congress, are coming with full force and pushing back against this idea,” Talib said. “They rename this kind of militarization or targeting in a very inhumane way of our immigrant neighbors, but when it comes down to it it is the same thing – which is targeting communities of color in a way that to me very much violates human rights and dignity for so many of our communities.”
She also slammed the “myth” that technology would make America safer, and instead said that what lawmakers should be focused on is comprehensive immigration reform – proposals of which typically include large-scale amnesty for illegal immigrants already in the country, and a broader number of pathways for which migrants can enter the U.S.
“This is a distraction to what is really needed, which is full comprehensive immigration reform policies in our country. We are far from even getting to that conversation because people are distracted with these for-profit, corporate greed approaches that are coming to experiment on our immigrants and our border,” she said. “And I say ‘enough.’”