Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary Cities for Criminals Act have moved one step closer to become law after passing through the House on Thursday afternoon.
The two bills present a potential nightmare for undocumented immigrants and for cities who are unwilling to comply with the federal government’s potential regulation of immigration detainment.
Kate’s Law is named after Kate Steinle, a woman who was murdered by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco, CA, two years ago. The bill would impose maximum jail sentences on immigrants who have attempted to reenter the United States illegally.
Some of these penalties include:
- A maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if an undocumented immigrant is caught trying to re-enter the country after being deported more than three times.
- A maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if an undocumented immigrant with a prior felony conviction attempts to reenter the country.
- A maximum sentence of 10 years if an undocumented immigrant with three misdemeanors attempts to reenter the country.
This is the second time lawmakers have attempted to pass Kate’s Law; it failed to pull enough votes to pass through the Senate last year.
The No Sanctuary City for Criminals Act would legislate the federal government’s ability to rescind funding for cities that do not comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) laws.
Presently, cities are not federally obliged to cooperate with ICE requests to detain “deportable” individuals for an additional 48 hours beyond what is mandated by existing laws. Many so-labelled “sanctuary cities” haven’t obeyed requests as the detainment isn’t considered constitutional.
Critics of both bills posit that the legislation unfairly classifies immigrants as criminals. For what it’s worth, there is no evidence to suggest that undocumented immigrants or documented immigrants are likely to commit more crimes than citizens. There is, however, some evidence that implies immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than American-born citizens.
House Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, summarized the argument against both bills best during today’s hearing: “These bills are nothing new and they are not really about immigration or fighting crime. They are about racial profiling and putting Latinos, quote unquote, in our place.”