House Democrats announced new legislation Friday to overhaul Homeland Security in the wake of what they cast as President Trump’s abuse of the department.
The new legislation would require formal notice to Congress when department deploys police to protect federal property, as was done in Portland, Oregon, and other cities during this year’s riots. And it would put new limits on who could be named to acting positions at the department, pushing back on Mr. Trump’s approach of altering rules to install his preferred people.
House Homeland Security Committee Democrats also proposed a new senior position, an associate secretary, who would be the No. 3 official behind the secretary and the deputy secretary, and who would have unified authority over the department’s law enforcement agencies, including ICE, the Border Patrol and Secret Service.
They would create an ombudsman to monitor immigration enforcement, and a host of other positions.
“Over the past four years, DHS has been the face of President Trump’s most extreme and politicized policies, from family separation to the arrests of Americans lawfully protesting,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the committee.
Homeland Security grew out of the 2001 terrorist attacks and began operations in 2003. It’s a sprawling department, overseeing everything from cybersecurity and elections infrastructure to the borders to child pornography investigations to disaster response.
Most Americans are familiar with the department through the security checkpoints at airports.
Its role in overseeing immigration matters has put it at the center of some of the biggest fights in Washington, ranging from the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty to Mr. Trump’s zero tolerance border policy.
Mr. Thompson said morale at the department needs improvement, and said there need to be guidelines to prevent some of the behavior seen during the Trump administration.