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Jun 29, 2017
My colleagues say this bill is about protecting us from criminals. But don’t be fooled about the ultimate effect of this bill.

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13) today gave the following statement on the House floor in opposition to "Kates Law" (H.R. 3004).

Ranking Member Conyers: 

Members of the House, H.R. 3004 is an anti-immigrant, enforcement-only proposal that represents yet another step in President Trump’s Mass Deportation plan.  This legislation significantly expands the federal government’s ability to prosecute individuals for illegal re-entry and attempted re-entry into the United States. 

My colleagues say this bill is about protecting us from criminals.  But don’t be fooled about the ultimate effect of this bill.  It does far more than target immigrants with criminal histories.

For the first time, this legislation would make it a felony for an individual who has been previously removed—or merely denied admission—to come to an official port of entry to ask to re-enter the country legally.  This is true even if the individual has no criminal history whatsoever.

For instance, the expanded offense would apply to persecuted asylum seekers voluntarily presenting themselves at a port of entry to request asylum under our immigration laws. 

It would reach desperate victims of sex trafficking who approach a CBP officer to seek protection.

It would even extend to persons asking to enter on humanitarian parole to donate life-saving organs to U.S. citizen relatives.   

Under H.R. 3004, all of these individuals could face up to two years in prison—simply for coming to an official port of entry to request immigration benefits provided under our immigration laws.

Finally, this bill perpetuates the fiction that immigrants are somehow inherently criminal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Numerous studies examining this issue conclude that immigrants actually commit crimes at a significantly lower rate than native-born Americans.

Given this legislation’s defects, it comes as no surprise that organizations across the nation join me in opposition.  

They include:

  • the conservative CATO Institute, which called H.R. 3004 a “waste of resources” that fails to safeguard “Americans against serious criminals.” 
  • Cities for Action, representing over 150 mayors and municipal leaders, who warned the bill would place “asylum seekers at further risk;”
  • and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, which described how H.R. 3004 will punish “victims of domestic and sexual violence” merely for requesting protection. 

H.R. 3004 is not what its sponsors would like us to believe.  In truth, it is a mean-spirited bill that would have far reaching consequences by making it a crime to ask for benefits that our immigration laws provide.

I therefore urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this dangerous legislation and I reserve the balance of my time.



115th Congress