Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has introduced two bills to strengthen public safety by combating dangerous sanctuary policies that permit criminals to go free and by enhancing penalties for deported felons who return to the United States. Chairman Goodlatte issued the statement below on the introduction of these bills.
Chairman Goodlatte: “For years, the lack of immigration enforcement and the spread of dangerous sanctuary policies have failed the American people and cost too many lives. The deaths of innocent Americans, such as Kate Steinle, Sarah Root, Grant Ronnebeck, and too many others, are tragic. Their deaths are especially devastating since they could have been prevented if our immigration laws had been enforced.
“The House Judiciary Committee is working to improve our nation’s immigration laws and policy, and today I have introduced two, straightforward bills to enhance public safety. The bills crack down on dangerous sanctuary policies that needlessly put innocent lives at risk. They enhance penalties for deported felons who return to the United States and ensure unlawful immigrants convicted of drunk driving, or arrested for other dangerous crimes, are detained during their removal proceedings. We owe it to the families of those who lost loved ones to take action to prevent these horrible crimes. They have waited far too long.”
First, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (H.R. 3003), introduced by Chairman Goodlatte and Representatives Steve King (R-Iowa) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), strengthens the law to combat dangerous sanctuary policies that shield unlawful and criminal immigrants 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 and Grant’s Law, which ensures unlawful immigrants convicted of drunk driving or arrested for other dangerous crimes are detained during their removal proceedings. This provision is named after Sarah Root and Grant Ronnebeck. In January 2016, an unlawful immigrant driving drunk struck Sarah Root’s car and subsequently killed her. She had just graduated from college. To make matters worse, the person responsible was released from custody and is still on the loose. And in January 2015, Grant Ronnebeck was murdered at a convenience store by a convicted felon who was free on bond while facing deportation.
The second bill introduced today, Kate’s Law (H.R. 3004), protects public safety by enhancing penalties for deported felons who return to the United States. The bill is named after Kate Steinle, who was murdered in San Francisco by an unlawful immigrant who had previously been deported five times and was convicted of multiple felonies. In another tragic example, Nicodemo Coria-Gonzales—a criminal immigrant previously deported at least five times—is reportedly responsible for nearly a dozen sexual assaults. He allegedly kidnapped a woman and attempted to light her on fire using gasoline, and kidnapped and raped a 68-year old woman.
Representative Steve King, an original cosponsor of both the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate’s Law, said the following on the bills’ introduction: “I thank Chairman Goodlatte for his support and leadership combatting illegal immigration. The bills we are introducing today contains two key provisions: Sarah’s Law, in honor of the memory of Iowa’s Sarah Root, a 21 year old killed by a 19 year old illegal alien who had previous run-ins with law enforcement; and Kate’s Law, in honor of the memory of Kate Steinle, a 32 year old woman killed by an illegal alien who had several felony convictions and who had been deported from the United States five times.
“Sarah’s Law requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take custody of illegal aliens charged in the United States with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. Kate’s Law amends federal law to impose a sentencing enhancement for any illegal reentry offense. Both of these reforms would protect all Americans from crimes committed by those who were not here legally in the first place.”
To learn more about the House Judiciary Committee’s work to improve our nation’s immigration laws, click here.