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November 15, 2019

Inhofe Leads Introduction of Keep Our Communities Safe Act

U.S. Sen Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), yesterday introduced the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, with Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The legislation would close the legal loophole that requires immigration authorities to release back into the United States illegal aliens who have not been accepted for deportation to other countries after being detained for six months; a practice also referred to as "catch and release."

Sen. Inhofe also co-sponsored the Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act and the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act this week.

“The Keep Our Communities Safe Act closes the ‘catch-and-release’ loophole, which puts our law abiding citizens, local law enforcement officials and communities at risk,” Inhofe said. “It will ensure that illegal aliens who have been found guilty of violent crimes and aggravated felonies are not able to remain in our communities. As the current law stands, an illegal alien with a criminal record is released back into the United States after six months if no other country accepts them for deportation. It’s past time to enact legislation to fix this problem.”

 “Our current immigration system is broken. That is just a fact. That’s why I am also proud to further address the flaws in our immigration system by co-sponsoring Senator Tillis’ Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act and Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act – two other immigration reform bills. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Trump administration to secure our border, build the wall and make our communities safer.”

“The fact that violent criminals can be released back into our communities as the result of a loophole is a clear example of how our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of repair,” said Boozman. “The Keep Our Communities Safe Act will fix that by protecting American families and ensuring dangerous illegal immigrants remain detained.”

“Non-citizens who assault and rob Americans should be deported, not released on a technicality,” Cotton said. “Unfortunately, a "catch and release" loophole puts criminals like Binh Thai Luc back onto our streets if they can’t be deported quickly enough. My bill eliminates that loophole and would keep violent non-citizens in federal custody until they’re sent back to their home country.”

“It is unconscionable that current law allows illegal aliens who have committed violent crimes to be released back in the United States,” said Perdue. “Loopholes like this jeopardize the safety of law-abiding citizens and put local law enforcement in extremely dangerous situations. By closing this loophole, federal authorities will have the ability to detain criminal illegal aliens, reduce incentives for illegal crossings at our southern border, and keep our communities safe.”

“It’s reckless to release illegal aliens into our country – despite warranting detention – because of an arbitrary timeline,” Cramer said. “Such disregard for the rule of law is not only bad policy, but it also poses a threat to American citizens. Our legislation to close these loopholes will help deter those who want to come into our country and take advantage of our broken immigration system.”

“Though the news crews have left and Congressional Democrat’s attention is elsewhere, there is still an ongoing humanitarian crisis happening at our southern border,” said Cruz. “It is a crisis that continues to overwhelm Texas border communities each and every day. Inexplicitly, Congress put loopholes in federal immigration law mandating ‘catch and release,’ which forces Border Patrol agents to eventually release everyone, including convicted criminals and the children they’ve brought with them. According to rapid DNA testing, nearly 30 percent of adults are not related to the children in their custody. That is cruel and inhumane, and it explains why we are hearing more and more reports of children being rented or sold by the cartels. I am proud to cosponsor this bill to close these loopholes and keep Texans and all Americans safe.”

Full text of the bill can be found here.

 Background

 The Keep Our Communities Safe Act

Closes the loophole that prevents DHS from detaining non-removable immigrants beyond the current Supreme Court-mandated six months in these specific situations:

  • The alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
  • The alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Secretary’s efforts to remove him;
  • The alien has a highly contagious disease;
  • Release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;
  • Release would threaten national security; or
  • Release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.

S.2739, Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act

  • Gives explicit authority to the arresting Federal, State, tribal, or local law enforcement agency to maintain custody of an illegal immigrant for a period not to exceed 48 hours to permit assumption of custody by the DHS, upon the issuance of a detainer.
  • Allows the federal government to enter into agreements with the arresting law enforcement agency to indemnify these agencies against wrongful detention claims by third parties which resulted from a detainer issued without reason to believe the individual is a removable illegal immigrant. Indemnification will not extend to claims relating to negligence or willful misconduct.
  • Makes jurisdictions ineligible for reimbursement of detention costs if they are certified by the DHS Secretary as being noncompliant with ICE.
  • Jurisdictions that are deemed incompliant by the DHS Secretary will not receive priority when being considered for funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and when benefitting from the 1033 and 1122 programs.

S. 2059, Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act

  • Defines sanctuary jurisdiction as any state or political subdivision that has a statute, ordinance, practice, etc. that restricts a government official or entity from receiving or maintaining information about the immigration status of an individual, including refusing to comply with lawful detainer requests made by DHS or notification of the release of an illegal immigrant.
  • Establishes civil action for victims or family members of crimes committed by illegal immigrants benefiting from a sanctuary city policy— establishes a private right of action of any individual, spouse or child who is a victim of a violent crime or felony that was a result of a sanctuary jurisdiction failing to comply with a lawful request made by DHS and refused to comply with a detainer or notify DHS about the release of an illegal immigrant.
  • Withholds certain grant funding from jurisdictions that refuse to comply with lawful requests.

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