Pro-Immigration Congressional Caucus Seeks to Soften Deportation Laws

Published on May 9th, 2016

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) recently introduced a resolution that aims to repeal certain laws that pertain to immigration enforcement. CPC membership includes Congress’ most pro-immigration legislators, including one senator and 75 members of the U.S. House.

An aggravated felony: drug trafficking.

CPC’s resolution seeks to undo much of the good in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act which made sanctuary cities illegal and tightened enforcement.

Caucus co-chairs Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Judy Chu (D-CA) want to reduce automatic deportation and water down the definition of an aggravated felony. Automatic deportation and aggravated felonies, they claim, have “led to a sharp increase in excessive detention and deportation for scores of immigrants.” Water down, I should point out, is my term; the caucus calls it “updating.”

Under immigration law, when an alien – lawful permanent resident, illegal alien or nonimmigrant visitor – is convicted of a criminal offense, he could have his lawful status revoked, be removed and banned from re-entry for either five or ten years. But an aggravated felony conviction bars the criminal alien from re-entry for 20 years.

In 1988, an aggravated felony referred only to murder, federal drug trafficking and illicit trafficking of certain firearms and destructive devices. Congress has since expanded the definition of aggravated felony to include more than 30 types of offenses, including sexual assault of a minor, simple battery, theft, filing a false tax return and failing to appear in court. An aggravated felony charge excludes aliens from asylum consideration and will lead to their expedited deportation.

Laxer immigration laws at a time of record high immigration, increased refugee resettlement and a new Central American border surge are counterproductive. The least Congress should demand is that immigrants obey the nation’s laws, well known to them upon entry, or face the consequences.

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