July 6, 2016

Dealing with Criminal Immigrants

  • The Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act and Kate’s Law.
  • Both bills respond to the tragic death of Kate Steinle at the hands of a repeatedly deported criminal alien released onto the streets as a result of San Francisco’s “sanctuary” policy.

On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on cloture on the motions to proceed to Senator Pat Toomey’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act and Senator Ted Cruz’s Stop Illegal Reentry Act, also called Kate’s Law. Both bills respond to the tragic murder of Kate Steinle, who was shot in San Francisco in 2015 by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant.

Three months before the shooting, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department had Sanchez in custody. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a “detainer” requesting that San Francisco notify them before releasing Sanchez, so they could pick him up. Because San Francisco is a “sanctuary city” – meaning it has a policy of not complying with federal immigration detainers – Sanchez was released without any notification to federal authorities. At the time of the murder, he had been deported from the U.S. five times and had seven felony convictions.

“[Due] to unjointed laws and basic incompetence of the government, the U.S. has suffered a self-inflicted wound in the murder of our daughter by the hand of a person that should have never been on the streets in this country.” Jim Steinle, father of Kate Steinle, 07-21-2015\

The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act

The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, S. 3100, withholds grant money from any “sanctuary jurisdiction” that forbids its local law enforcement from sharing information with federal immigration officials or complying with an immigration detainer.

The Department of Homeland Security issues immigration detainers requesting that law enforcement notify DHS before releasing an illegal immigrant or hold the person for up to 48 additional hours. Many jurisdictions have adopted policies of not cooperating with detainer orders, including notification requests. Recent federal court decisions have held that if DHS issues an erroneous immigration detainer, local law enforcement officers who comply with that detainer may be held liable for DHS’ error. The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act responds to these concerns. Under the bill, when local officials comply with detainers, they are deemed agents of DHS. As such, the federal government, not local law enforcement, will be subject to any suit for DHS’ error. Local law enforcement will remain liable if they caused the error.

The bill also addresses concerns from victim advocates that cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration officials discourages immigrant crime victims and witnesses from coming forward out of fear of deportation. S. 3100 provides that a jurisdiction will not be deemed a sanctuary jurisdiction if it has a policy providing that local law enforcement will not report a victim or witness of a crime to federal immigration officials.

S. 3100 withholds Community Development Block Grant funds and certain Economic Development Administration grants from sanctuary jurisdictions. It would not affect a jurisdiction’s eligibility for trade adjustment assistance grants and FEMA-related grants.

Kate’s Law

Kate’s Law is a legislative response to immigrants, like Kate Steinle’s killer, who illegally reenter the U.S. after deportation. In 2013, 39 percent of all removals involved illegal aliens with prior removal orders, suggesting that currently the benefits of reentering the U.S. after deportation outweigh the risks. S. 2193 increases the penalties for people who illegally reenter the United States after being removed.

The bill raises the maximum criminal penalty for illegal reentry from two to five years and creates a penalty of up to 10 years for any person who has been denied admission or deported three or more times and then illegally reenters the country. It also creates a five-year mandatory minimum for anyone convicted of illegal reentry who had an aggravated felony prior to removal or who has been twice convicted of illegal reentry previously.

Issue Tag: Judiciary