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Tour guide Luke Miller talks to a group of mostly Syrian but some Iraqi refugee families gathered outside Madison Square Garden for a tour of Manhattan in New York, on April 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A prominent human rights group has criticized the Donald Trump administration for an immigration bill that would essentiallycriminalize the presence of millions of unauthorized immigrants in the US.
“This bill offers no new ideas to address a broken immigration system, but instead revives a parade of unworkable and unjust ideas that have been rejected before,” Grace Meng, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said on Friday.
“This bill would heap new layers of wasteful misery on immigrants as well as their US families and communities, under an administration whose harmful immigration policies have already gone to extremes,” Meng added.
The Davis-Oliver Act, sponsored by Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, is being considered on Friday in the House Judiciary Committee.
The legislation would substantially increase the capabilities of federal and local immigration enforcement, including empowering state and local law enforcement to enact their own immigration laws and penalties.
It also would give the government powers to revoke visas, increase Immigration and Customs Enforcement's ability to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, increase criminal penalties for undocumented immigrants and punish sanctuary jurisdictions.
“This bill would make a terrible situation worse,” Meng said. “US citizens and the immigrants in their families and communities deserve a fair and functional immigration system and have been demanding one for decades. Congress should listen and deliver.”
On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans faced off over the immigration policy as they began considering a set of immigration bills that critics said would amount to the creation of a “mass deportation force.”
The administration of Trump has increased the detention of undocumented immigrants in the US since his inauguration in January.
People protest US President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the US Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, May 15, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Trump's first month in office was dominated by a battle over his temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries and harsh personal criticism of federal judges who blocked his immigration orders.
Building a wall on the US-Mexico border to stop the influx of Hispanic migrants coming from Central America was also a hallmark of Trump's presidential campaign.
The United States currently detains more than 400,000 people per year, at an annual cost of 2 billion dollars. Hundreds of immigrants at federal detention centers across the country have gone on hunger strikes in recent years, calling for improved conditions or to be released.

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