Letitia Harmon
FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Thank you, Chair Tarwater, and members of the Committee for affording us the opportunity to provide testimony on HB 2355.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas is a non-partisan, non-political membership organization dedicated to preserving and strengthening the constitutional liberties afforded to every resident of Kansas. We work to preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights and freedoms through policy advocacy, litigation, and education. We proudly serve over 40,000 supporters in Kansas and represent more than 1.7 million supporters nationwide.
We urge you to oppose HB 2355. Every person residing in the United States is given protections under the law, and statutes that remove constitutional protections, expand Federal authority, or allow law enforcement to detain and arrest without accountability for their actions must be opposed.
The primary function of this bill is to remove a restriction of warrantless arrest. Current language limits warrantless arrest to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In expanding this statute to all Federal law enforcement who are armed, it increases the risk to residents of Kansas, particularly those who are low-income or racial minorities and are already targeted unjustly by law enforcement.
Specifically, striking this wording would allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to arrest, without warrant, anyone they deem to be engaging in inherently dangerous behavior, or who seems to be using physical force.
In recent years, ICE has detained and deported record numbers of people from the United States. Many of ICE’s removal tactics take away even the right to a fair hearing in court, as the government rushes to judgment and tries to ram people through a rubber-stamp system that ignores individual circumstances. These enforcement programs pose a variety of threats to civil liberties: They implicate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the constitutional guarantee of due process, and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. ICE’s enforcement practices also impose heavy social costs, tearing American families apart and undermining community trust in law enforcement.
Were this statute changed, racially diverse and immigrant communities would have even less faith that local law enforcement has their best interests at heart, as it would open up opportunities for the harsh and overly zealous and violent tactics for which ICE has become known.
The ACLU has defended many citizens who were detained or arrested by ICE illegally. We have fought for children to be reunited with their families. There are many residents who are unnecessarily targeted by Federal efforts to co-opt the jobs of local law enforcement, which is to protect and to serve all Kansans. We defend their Miranda rights, their due process, and their civil liberties, all of which are threatened when we give Federal agencies too much power.
We urge you to oppose HB 2355, and to leave the statute unamended.