On Thursday, 233 House Republicans and 24 House Democrats voted to pass H.R.3004, otherwise known as “Kate’s Law.”
Kate’s Law is named after Kathryn Steinle, who was fatally shot on July 1, 2015, by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant and seven-time felon who had been deported five times prior to the killing. The bill aims to beef up prison sentences for illegal immigrants who attempt to re-enter the United States – specifically those who have been previously convicted of misdemeanors or felonies.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), the only Republican to vote against Kate’s Law, believes that portions of the bill violate the Fifth Amendment. His concerns are certainly legally debatable, and worth serious consideration.
Notwithstanding Amash’s objection, the bill has many Democratic detractors. As Kate’s Law moves to the Senate, many believe that it will fail to get the support it needs to pass, as happened in 2016 when the bill failed a cloture vote.
The Hill quotes the Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez:
“I will do whatever I can in order to stop them. These are only punitive in nature, they don’t deal with the totality of the reality of our immigration challenge, and as a continuing part of the Republican saga that only looks at one element, and looks at it in a way that is totally disproportionate.”
In 2016, when the Senate failed to pass Kate’s Law, the Obama White House issued a statement:
The bill fails to offer the comprehensive reforms needed to fix the Nation’s broken immigration laws and would impose severe and unprecedented mandatory minimum sentences that would undermine the discretion of federal judges to make sure the punishment fits the crime in each case.
Unlike Rep. Amash, the Democrats don’t appear to object due to any perceived violation of the Fifth Amendment. Rather, Democratic politicians seem to be arguing that minimum sentences may be disproportionate to the crimes committed, and that the bill is too micro – that it lacks other, comprehensive reforms.
The pertinent text of H.R.3004 (Kate’s Law) is as follows:
Any alien who has been denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed, or who has departed the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding, and subsequently enters, attempts to enter, crosses the border to, attempts to cross the border to, or is at any time found in the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both…
Notwithstanding the penalty provided in subsection (a), if an alien described in that subsection was convicted before such removal or departure—(1) for 3 or more misdemeanors or for a felony, the alien shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both;
(2) for a felony for which the alien was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 30 months, the alien shall be fined under such title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both;
(3) for a felony for which the alien was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 60 months, the alien shall be fined under such title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; or
(4) for murder, rape, kidnapping, or a felony offense described in chapter 77 (relating to peonage and slavery) or 113B (relating to terrorism) of such title, or for 3 or more felonies of any kind, the alien shall be fined under such title, imprisoned not more than 25 years, or both…
Any alien who has been denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed 3 or more times and thereafter enters, attempts to enter, crosses the border to, attempts to cross the border to, or is at any time found in the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both…
Under the “proof of prior convictions” section, the bill reads:
The prior convictions described in subsection (b) are elements of the crimes described, and the penalties in that subsection shall apply only in cases in which the conviction or convictions that form the basis for the additional penalty are—(1) alleged in the indictment or information; and (2) proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial or admitted by the defendant.
Because the southern border of the United States is so porous, illegal immigrants can, with relative ease, walk right back into the country after being deported. Steinle’s killer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been deported five times, yet continued to find his way back into the U.S.
Lopez-Sanchez isn’t the only criminal who has been deported and returned. As The Daily Wire previously reported:
Illegal immigrant, Miguel Angel Villasenor-Saucedo, was captured after leaving the scene of a “hit-and-run accident that killed two women,” according to The Blaze. He had been deported eight times prior to his crime.
Illegal immigrant and MS-13 gang member, Tommy Vladimir Alvarado-Ventura, had been deported four times prior to his alleged “predatory sexual assault of a child, attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon,” according to CNN. Previous charges included “DWI, disorderly conduct, assault, false impersonation, and contempt of court.”
Illegal immigrant, Estuardo Alvarado, killed Sandra Duran while driving drunk. He faces “vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated” charges, according to the Los Angeles Times. He had previously been deported “at least five times.”
The list goes on.
Until such a time as the southern border is secure, something akin to Kate’s Law should be considered. As of now, what is the deterrent preventing illegal immigrants – especially those who have had prior convictions – from simply re-entering the United States after having been deported? As evidenced by those who openly defy the sovereignty of the U.S. repeatedly, there is little to no deterrent.
There can and should be debate regarding Rep. Amash’s objection; there should be debate about the structure of the law as it pertains to the minimum sentences; elected officials should also present more comprehensive border and illegal immigration solutions. However, when running a cost/benefit analysis of Kate’s Law, one must consider the following:
If Kate’s Law (or something similar) were in place a decade ago, would Estuardo Alvarado have been able to drive under the influence, ending the life of Sandra Duran? Would Miguel Angel Villasenor-Saucedo have been able to kill two women in a hit-and-run? Would a child have been subjected to “predatory sexual assault” at the hands of Tommy Vladimir Alvarado-Ventura? Would Kate Steinle still be alive?
These are questions worthy of sober contemplation.
Similarly, what will it look like going forward without something like Kate’s Law? Who might be injured, molested, sexually assaulted, or killed by someone who shouldn’t be here in the first place?
There are perhaps legitimate concerns regarding the bill – its alleged violation of the Fifth Amendment, as well as its allegedly disproportionate minimum sentences. These should be discussed. However, no American should ever have to suffer or die at the hands of an illegal immigrant criminal who, because of lax sentencing or a porous border, is able to roam free in our republic.
Via Daily Wire