AILA: House Immigration Bills Erode Public Safety and the Constitution

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 29, 2017 – Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), urged lawmakers to oppose two bills slated to be taken up this week by the House of Representatives: the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” (H.R. 3003) and “Kate’s Law” (H.R. 3004).

AILA President Annaluisa Padilla noted, “In one fell swoop, these mean-spirited and unworkable bills will undermine public safety and erode our nation’s bedrock constitutional principles. The House leadership is rushing the bills to the floor just a few days after making them public and never bringing either before the Judiciary Committee. Committee review would have revealed how provisions in these bills would result in violations of the Fourth and Tenth Amendments. The bills don’t make us safer-they make it even harder for local law enforcement to protect residents and communities. Yet again, Congress is pushing an enforcement-only agenda that scapegoats and criminalizes immigrants and does nothing to advance the reform of our outdated immigration laws and ensure the safety of all our communities.”

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AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson flagged a major concern with H.R. 3003, the anti-local law enforcement bill, saying that it would in fact make it “more difficult for many localities, including large cities, to arrest and prosecute potentially dangerous criminals which surely cannot be the intent of anyone involved in drafting this legislation.” He added, “And Kate’s Law would waste American taxpayer funds by imposing severe prison sentences upon thousands of people who pose no threat to the community and who are returning to the U.S. because they want to reunite with loved ones. These bills will target for deportation precisely the population of immigrants that 9 out 10 Americans believe should have the opportunity to legalize their status.”

Among other things, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, H.R. 3003, would:

  • Impose far greater obligations on states or localities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement and even put them at risk of liability for constitutional violations, such as wrongful detention.
  • Strip localities of the ability to enact common-sense crime prevention policies that ensure victims of crime will seek protection and report crimes.
  • Deny federal funding for critical law enforcement, national security, drug treatment, and crime victim initiatives to localities that fail to comply with federal immigration efforts.
  • Increase the use of detention without ensuring those detained have access to a bond determination – a clear violation of due process – and allow the federal government to indefinitely detain people in removal proceedings, meaning a huge waste of taxpayer money for unnecessary detention.

Kate’s Law, H.R. 3004 would:

  • Expand the already severe penalties in federal law for illegal reentry and now account for more than one quarter of all federal criminal prosecutions nationwide.
  • Punish people who cross or attempt to cross the border, even if they present themselves at ports of entry to request asylum and are taken into custody to await credible fear screening.
  • Undermine due process by preventing people from challenging unfair removal orders. This is likely unconstitutional and will cause grave injustice to defendants, such as asylum seekers who were deported without the opportunity to seek asylum.
  • Allow for prosecution of Good Samaritans who provide assistance for migrants.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.