House backs bills targeting illegal immigration

Jul 01, 2017, 00:33
House backs bills targeting illegal immigration

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved two bills created to toughen measures against undocumented immigrants, a victory for US President Donald Trump, who had promised during his campaign to take these actions. This bill commemorates Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. H.R. 3004, Kate's Law, will increase penalties for individuals who reenter the United Sates after being convicted of a felony and deported.

That proposal includes all of the provisions in the "No Sanctuary" and "Kate's Law" bills, and also provides for the hiring of over 10,000 new immigration officers, allows local law enforcement personnel to enforce immigration law and authorizes deportation of all immigrants - legal and illegal - who are members of criminal gangs.

The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would authorize the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to withhold certain grants from jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the offense would also apply to people who request entry because they are seeking protection from sex trafficking or persecution, or those who ask for humanitarian parole to donate organs to relatives who are US citizens.

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argued that contrary to the claims of the Trump administration, "Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act will make our communities less safe by undermining the trust that law enforcement builds with its communities-citizen and immigrant alike". "Opposing these bills, and allowing risky criminals back into our communities, our schools, and the neighborhoods where our children play, puts all of us at risk". The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, on the other hand, would force state and local law enforcement agencies to violate the Fourth Amendment by requiring them to imprison people without due process at the request of federal immigration agents.

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While both bills are likely to pass in the House, it is unclear what fate awaits this legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The Fraternal Order of Police urged lawmakers to vote against the bill, saying it would strip communities of needed policing resources.

Support for that bill fell more along party lines with only three Democrats voting yes.

During a roundtable at the White House on Wednesday with family members of those killed by undocumented immigrants, Trump talked about the importance of "Kate's Law".

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Both bills include policies that President Donald Trump has endorsed as a response to the murder of Steinle and other similar cases. Prior to killing Steinle, Lopez-Sanchez had been in the custody of San Francisco law enforcement officials.

Trump has put an emphasis on rooting out criminal immigrants from the US since he's been in office, ramping up immigration enforcement capabilities under two executive orders, though the enforcement has made all undocumented immigrants vulnerable to action.

In an op-ed this week pushing for both bills, Sessions doubled down on his condemnation of sanctuary cities. "These bills can restore sanity and common-sense to our system by ending abusive attempts to undermine federal law, and they can prevent future tragedies by empowering law enforcement".

He said that Steinle needlessly died, and that sanctuary policies send a message that immigration laws can be ignored. Cory Booker (D-N.J) introduced legislation to prevent the federal government from using state and local law enforcement officials to enforce USA immigration law. Democrats said the bills represented "another step in President Trump's Mass Deportation plan".

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