Buried amidst the Twitter-feud headlines this past week is the House of Representative’s bipartisan passage of “Kate’s Law”, which would increase potential criminal penalties for illegal immigrants who are caught returning to the United States after having already been deported. The bill, sponsored by Virginia congressman Bob Goodlatte and passed with 233 GOP votes and 24 Democrat votes, received lavish praise from President Trump on Twitter and Facebook and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
“Kate’s Law” has been an ever-present talking point on the conservative right the past two years. It is named after Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old who was killed in July 2015 in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who had seven felony convictions and who had already been deported from the U.S. an unbelievable five times.
Happening in the middle of then-candidate Trump’s campaign focus on illegal immigration, Steinle’s death immediately became a rallying point for conservatives concerned about border security, sanctuary cities, and public safety.
Then-Fox News conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly decried the act and hosted multiple segments pushing for justice for Steinle’s family and calling for accountability for the officials who let repeat criminals like Steinle’s killer walk the streets. Racked by the public outcry, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi would lose his re-election campaign in even that deep-blue city.
Nationally, the event even further outraged both Republicans and a general public already growing increasingly despondent with sanctuary city policies and spotty immigration law enforcement. Then-candidate Trump would repeatedly mention Kate Steinle on the campaign trail and undoubtedly the events played a significant part in helping his campaign gain the momentum that would eventually win him the nomination.
“Kate’s Law” has now made significant progress through the legislative process. The bill as passed would give the criminal justice system the ability to press a wide variety of possible charges as well the discretion to give lengthier sentences to be able to keep repeated immigration law violators, and especially those who have been convicted of crimes while here in the United States, off the streets.
The bill is supported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Steinle’s parents, and, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, over 63% of the American public with only 26% opposing it.
In criminal justice, it is proven wisdom that those who have broken the law multiple times show a clear reckless disregard for public order and societal norms that makes leniency less right and rehabilitation less likely.
In the case of those who repeatedly enter our country illegally and commit other crimes while here, they have consciously chosen of their own free will to flout our country’s laws and take advantage of our prior leniency towards them.
Sanctuary city policies not only protect and give cover to those who enter our country illegally but also encourage their return by lowering the risk of detection and punishment. In the process, many law-abiding Americans of all backgrounds, like Kate Steinle but also countless others, are victimized, hurt, or even killed.
“Kate’s Law” now goes to the Senate for consideration. Undoubtedly it will face an uphill battle there, as in July 2016 a previous version of “Kate’s Law” failed on a cloture motion 55-42, with 60 votes being needed to defeat the filibuster.
However that was before the American people spoke on November 8th and voted in President Donald Trump as well as reaffirming their confidence in Republican control of the Senate and House.
While the public remains extraordinarily divided over President Trump’s policy agenda and personal habits in general, nonetheless on an issue such as “Kate’s Law” we already see strong bipartisan interest because it is addressing a criminal justice and public safety issue that undoubtedly many Americans on both sides of the aisle can sympathize with.
“Kate’s Law” will hopefully soon go from being the talk of conservative news personalities to being passed by the Senate, signed by President Trump, and enacted into law. All Americans who want to see justice for the victims of crime and our communities become safer should support the passage of “Kate’s Law.”