Vote Explanation for H.R. 3004 — Kate’s Law

I voted against H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law, which would amend section 276 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. I did so because, if passed, the bill would result in a significant waste of federal resources that would not measurably reduce crime rates, would penalize even those who come to the U.S. to escape war or persecution, and perpetuate the false notion that immigrants are inherently criminals.

This bill significantly expands the federal government’s ability to prosecute individuals not only for illegal re-entry but also attempted re-entry and authorizes, for the first time, the criminal prosecution of individuals who voluntarily present themselves at the border to seek asylum, seek protection as victims of human trafficking, or to seek other forms of relief. Under current law, an individual cannot be prosecuted for illegal reentry unless he or she tries to evade detection and capture. This bill would change that, allowing for the felony prosecution of any previously removed individual who approaches the border to apply for admission or other forms of relief like asylum or trafficking in persons protections, even if he or she has no criminal record.

The bill also increases maximum sentences for certain immigration violations and expands the classes of crimes that are subject to these increased sentences. One example is ten-year prison sentences for non-violent misdemeanor offenses, such as driving without a license or loitering. In doing so, the bill would drastically increase the number of individuals sitting in our prisons for the duration of their sentences without a plan to pay for the steep costs this would incur.

Further, supporters argue the bill is necessary because of ‘rampant criminality’ in the immigrant community. This, however, ignores the fact that crime rates among the immigrant population are actually less than that of the native-born population.

I condemn in the strongest terms the murder of Kate Steinle, but sadly H.R. 3004 would not have prevented her death, would do little to reduce crime rates, and would substantially add to America’s nonviolent prison population all while wasting federal resources.