H.R. 3697 expands the immigration grounds of removal by adding new grounds for “gang members,” but the overbreadth would capture many individuals who have no involvement in gang activity whatsoever. A full fact sheet is available here.
The bill defines the term “gang” for the first time in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
This bill defines a “criminal gang” as an ongoing group, club, organization, or association of 5 or more persons that has committed a felony drug offense, including felony simple possession of marijuana; has brought in or harbored certain aliens which could be read to cover immigrant clergy and even the household members of an undocumented immigrant; among other things.
Individuals are inadmissible or deportable if the government knows or has “reason to believe” the person is in such a gang, has ever been in such a gang, or has participated in the activities of such a gang.
Under this bill, immigrants could be denied admission or even deported with little due process based on no real evidence of a gang affiliation.
The “reason to believe” standard is a low burden of proof similar to probable cause, and it does not require a conviction or even an arrest.
This would allow the government to deny admission and even to revoke the status of many immigrants based on flimsy, circumstantial evidence.
The bill also violates due process by revoking the status of even lawful permanent residents based on nothing more than an immigration officer having “reason to believe” of a gang affiliation.
Under this bill, “gang” members are subject to mandatory detention and are not eligible for bond, regardless of whether they pose no threat to public safety and no flight risk.
This would expand mass detention and expedite the removal of anyone the government claims is a gang member.
This bill targets vulnerable populations and would strip such individuals of status and prohibit them from qualifying for asylum; withholding of removal; Temporary Protected Status; Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (unaccompanied alien children who have demonstrated abuse, abandonment or neglect); or parole.