Congress Inching Toward True Immigration Enforcement

Joe Guzzardi
July 5, 2017
As seen in:
Deseret Morning News
Lawton Constitution

Ensnared, at least for the time being, in a nasty and embarrassing health care setback, President Trump can take heart in two house bills that, if passed, will help him deliver on his promise to implement tougher immigration enforcement. The pair of bills that the House Judiciary Committee approved would end immigration-related injustices that began decades ago during previous Republican and Democratic administrations, but festered under President Obama.

The first bill, HR3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, would impose financial penalties on jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The current common practice in the more than 300 sanctuary cities nationwide is to refuse to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold requests on criminal aliens. Since President Trump’s election, most sanctuary city mayors have become more defiant, ratcheting up — way up — their criticism of the president, while doubling down on their commitment to ignore federal law, and thereby putting their local communities at risk.

The second legislation, HR3004, Kate’s Law, which received 24 Democratic votes, would encourage stronger mandatory sentencing for serial immigration offenders. HR3004 is named after Kate Steinle, the young woman murdered two years ago on a San Francisco pier by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon.

Disappointingly, a full House vote on the Davis-Oliver Act, which the House Judiciary passed in May, wasn’t called. Titled in recognition of Michael Davis Jr. and Danny Oliver, two California deputy sheriffs murdered by a twice-deported criminal alien, the bill would, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, strengthen interior enforcement and deter future illegal immigration. Davis-Oliver has President Trump’s vigorous support, which he reiterated after meeting in the White House with victims’ families.

Davis-Oliver would tighten the definition of sanctuary jurisdictions, expand the list of inadmissible foreign nationals and require the federal government to assist states and localities that want help with their federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The passed bills now advance to the Senate where their futures are uncertain. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the upper chamber, but would still need eight Democratic votes to send the bills to President Trump’s desk. In 2015 and 2016, Senate Democrats blocked similar legislation.

The challenge ahead for the successful House bills is that when it comes to enacting tougher immigration laws, not all Senate Republicans can be counted on. But with the 2018 midterm elections around the corner, otherwise hesitant Republicans and unsafe Democratic incumbents, especially in states that President Trump won by large margins, might see political advantage in yea votes. Analysts calculate that of the 33 seats that Senate Democrats must defend, 12 are in vulnerable swing states.

Numerous national polls show that Americans want strict enforcement of immigration laws and less overall immigration. A Rasmussen survey taken in March found that only 35 percent of Americans would feel comfortable living in a sanctuary city. Matching Rasmussen findings is an IGS-UC Berkeley poll that shows that, even in ultra-liberal California, 74 percent of likely voters think sanctuary cities should be ended.


 
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