Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a pair of immigration enforcement bills—Kate’s Law by a vote of 256-167 (with 24 Democrats crossing the aisle) and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act by a vote of 228-195. The bills, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and backed by the White House, seek to enhance public safety by punishing sanctuary cities and criminal aliens who re-enter the U.S. after deportation.
Kate’s Law is a narrow, straightforward bill that increases current maximum sentences for illegal reentry into the United States. However, unlike previous iterations of the bill, it does not create mandatory minimum sentences for illegal reentry, allowing judges to determine the severity of the sentence. The bill’s namesake is Kate Steinle, who was brutally murdered in San Francisco by an illegal alien with seven convictions and five deportations under his belt.
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act strengthens existing law to combat dangerous sanctuary policies that shield illegal aliens—including many with criminal convictions—from federal immigration enforcement. Specifically, the bill clarifies U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer authority—the tool used by federal immigration enforcement officers to pick up criminal aliens from local jails—by establishing statutory probable cause standards to issue detainers for the first time. It also withholds certain federal grants from jurisdictions that violate federal law by prohibiting their officers from communicating with ICE. The bill protects jurisdictions that comply with detainers from being sued, while allowing victims of crime to sue jurisdictions that refuse to comply and subsequently release criminal aliens onto the streets.
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act also contains Sarah’s Law and Grant’s Law, which ensure illegal aliens convicted of drunk driving or arrested for other dangerous crimes are detained during their removal proceedings. These provisions are named after Sarah Root and Grant Ronnebeck. In January 2016, an illegal alien who was in a drunken street race struck Sarah Root’s car, killing her. To make matters worse, Sarah’s killer was released from custody and is still a fugitive from justice. Just one year earlier, Grant Ronnebeck was murdered at a convenience store by a convicted felon who was free on bond while facing deportation.
With Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act now moving to the Senate, the House will be under immense pressure to pass the Davis-Oliver Act, a comprehensive enforcement bill that was recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill—which President Trump reiterated his support for Wednesday—aims to increase cooperation between federal and local officials in the enforcement of existing U.S. immigration laws.
Like the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, the Davis-Oliver Act cracks down on dangerous sanctuary city jurisdictions by clarifying ICE detainer authority, withholding federal grant funding, and protecting compliant jurisdictions from the threat of lawsuits. The bill also takes a number of steps to enhance public safety. Notably, it broadens the list of deportable offenses and expands expedited removal. It also contains provisions to penalize “recalcitrant” countries that either refuse or delay repatriation of their nationals after they have been ordered removed from the United States.
The bill also protects national security by improving the nation’s first line of defense, the visa issuance process. It provides thorough vetting of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States in order to prevent terrorist entry. The bill also promotes the rule of law and removes the ability of any president to unilaterally dismantle immigration enforcement by granting states and localities the authority to enforce their own immigration laws consistent with federal practices. Lastly, the bill authorizes the hiring of 12,500 additional ICE agents and provides ICE with more resources.
FAIR supports the Davis-Oliver Act and continues to fight for its consideration on the House floor.