Does an airport have the right to withhold their planes from transporting undocumented immigrants at ICE’s request?
Context and what the bill does
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) transports undocumented immigrants from all over the country to detention facilities. In April 2019, King County, Washington made national headlines by banning their local airport from participating in such ICE flights.
The Prohibiting Local Airports from Neglecting Enforcement (PLANE) Act would ban taxpayer dollars from going to any airport which doesn’t cooperate with ICE.
It was introduced in the House on May 23 as bill number H.R. 2955, by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL6).
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill helps national security and immigration enforcement, which is targeted with making sure all immigrants come to this country legally.
“Airports that refuse to cooperate with ICE should not receive federal grants,” Rep. Palmer said in a press release. “The rule of law must not be thwarted by so-called ‘sanctuary airports,’ especially when they potentially delay the removal of people accused of crimes like human trafficking and rape. Political posturing cannot be permitted when an airport has agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for federal funds.”
What opponents say
Opponents counter that an airport which doesn’t cooperate with ICE is upholding human rights and refusing to participate in unjust policies.
“Deportations raise deeply troubling human rights concerns which are inconsistent with the values of King County, including separations of families, increases of racial disproportionality in policing, deportations of people into unsafe situations in other countries, and constitutional concerns of due process,” King County Executive Dow Constantine wrote in an executive order.
“Further use of King County International Airport in this manner would be detrimental to the public welfare and could adversely affect the willingness or ability of other persons to use, or engage in businesses at [the airport] with a negative effect on the financial sustainability.”
Odds of passage
The bill has attracted 46 cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Odds of passage are low in the Republican-controlled chamber.