Verónica Escobar Calls for More Oversight of Department of Homeland Security
As the White House begins its search for a permanent Homeland Security Secretary, Congresswoman Verónica Escobar (D-TX) is calling for increased oversight of the Department. Escobar last week introduced the Homeland Security Improvement Act -- her first legislative proposal since joining the House -- to provide additional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on border and immigration issues. The new legislation would establish a commission within DHS made up of border state representatives to develop policy recommendations, evaluate policies, and improve agent and officer safety. It would school ICE and CBP, literally. Officers would have to go training and education such as community policing practices, lawful use of force and de-escalation tactics, and history and ethics of asylum law. DHS would have to perform an assessment of ports of entry to be delivered to Congress; require CBP and ICE to conduct an annual report on staffing needs, impacts on trade/commerce, and an assessment of border security strategy; GAO would report on the use of force policies used by CBP and ICE and on the potential implementation of body-worncameras; require DHS and HHS Secretaries to create a tracking system interface for separated families; and require the GAO to report on the feasibility of establishing an independent immigration court, the impact such change will have on the case backlog, barriers to its creation, and recommendations for Congress. It would also ban family separations, except in very limited circumstances. “We have seen billions of dollars in funding go to the Department of Homeland Security to be spent on enforcement, but there has not been a similar push for accountability and oversight,” said Escobar. “At a time when many leaders in the Department have ‘acting’ in their titles, this bill will ensure the Department of Homeland Security begins to engage with border communities across the country to create effective and conscientious policy.” More here.