HR 3004, known as Kate’s law, would institute fines and mandatory jail sentences for undocumented immigrants who return to the U.S. after having been denied admission, deported or ordered to be deported. If the individual has committed no prior crimes then the jail sentence would be for 2 years. If the individual had previously been convicted of an offense(s) the sentences begin to escalate: 3 or more misdemeanors or a felony would result in 10 years, a past sentence of 30 months or less would lead to 15 years in jail, 60 months or less would result in 20 years, 3 or more felonies would result in 25 years and prior offenses such as murder, rape or kidnapping would also result in 25 years in jail (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr3004ih/xml/BILLS-115hr3004ih.xml). The bill provides for no exceptions and no appeals process: “Greg Chen, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said ‘It’s a one-size-fits-all justice that is going to produce sentences that don’t fit the person’s circumstances or facts of life…. People who have lived here a long time may go to visit family in Mexico and then get picked up on the way back in’” (http://thehill.com/policy/335717-republicans-look-to-fulfill-trumps-vow-on-kates-law).
This bill is named after Kate Steinle who died a tragic death and whose life was wastefully cut short. Her shortened life is a deep tragedy, which nothing, including this bill, can make better. The conservative right has taken her name, the circumstances of her death and used them to cloak a prejudicial policy, used them to pretend that this bill is about protecting and safeguarding Americans.
Ms. Steinle’s tragic death occurred as follows: “Kate Steinle, a thirty-two-year-old woman… was inadvertently killed by an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, on a San Francisco pier in July of 2015. According to the ballistics expert who testified in the preliminary court hearing, in August 2015 in San-Francisco courts, Lopez-Sanchez’ gun was pointed towards the ground. He shot the gun-foolishly enough, trying to shoot seals-and the bullet ricocheted off the pavement, fatally wounding nearby Kate Steinle. Lopez-Sanchez, admittedly is a terrible representative of any group of people; he had been deported on five separate occasions previously, and immigration authorities had wanted him for a sixth deportation” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samanta-honigman/kates-law-and-the-license_b_9789508.html).
Shortly after Ms. Steinle’s death Bill O’Reilly began crafting a proposal, championing and pushing for “Kate’s Law”, ignoring all facts, reality and the impact this law would have: http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/09/kates-law-petition-oreilly-calls-new-federal-law-after-kate-steinles-murder, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/kates-law-mandatory-sentencing/403990/. Since O’Reilly’s rally cry this bill has been introduced in various fashions and up until now it has always been defeated by Democrats. This bill has also become near and dear to the hearts of the conservative right, including Mr. Trump’s.
Regarding those pesky facts… in 2015 it was estimated that the law (the current bill is not an exact replica of the 2015 bill but quite close) would increase the federal prison population by 57,000 people and that the bill would cost roughly $2 billion per year (the U.S. Bureau of Prisons annual budget request in 2015 was $7 billion) (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/kates-law-mandatory-sentencing/403990/). In addition to being quite expensive, this bill operates entirely independent of reality. Reality is that immigrants are less dangerous than native born individuals, as the following excerpt from the American Immigration Council’s Special Report shows:
“Higher Immigration is Associated with Lower Crime Rates
Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.
During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.
Immigrants are Less Likely than the Native-Born to Be Behind Bars
According to an original analysis of data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the authors of this report, roughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.
The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma. In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7 percent—more than triple the 2.8 percent rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7 percent rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.
Immigrants are Less Likely Than the Native-Born to Engage in Criminal Behavior
A variety of different studies using different methodologies have found that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in either violent or nonviolent “antisocial” behaviors; that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be repeat offenders among “high risk” adolescents; and that immigrant youth who were students in U.S. middle and high schools in the mid-1990s and are now young adults have among the lowest delinquency rates of all young people.” (excerpt taken from:https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/criminalization-immigration-united-states).
Thus it is imperative that we speak up and let Rep. Hunter know that we do not support this unfounded bill, which will do nothing to improve the safety of all who live in our beautiful border region.