Wicker Cosponsors Bill to Strengthen Immigration Enforcement

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Legislation Targets Illegal Immigrants Charged With Drunk Driving

The Obama Administration often chooses to ignore the law when it comes to illegal immigration.  A glaring example is the failure to detain illegal immigrants who drink and drive.

This year a number of car accidents across the country have exposed this serious lapse in federal immigration enforcement.  In these cases, illegal immigrants were not detained after being arrested for drunk driving, despite causing crashes that resulted in fatalities or caused life-threatening injuries.

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One particularly horrific crash involved a 21-year-old killed by a drunk driver on the day she graduated from college.  The other driver, an illegal immigrant, was drag racing with an alcohol level of more than triple the legal limit.  He was then released on bond and remains at large, despite repeated requests for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take him into custody.

Drunk driving accidents are senseless, injuring one person every two minutes and killing 27 Americans a day.  Families who lose a loved one because of a drunk driver should not have to grieve as the perpetrator eludes the law and remains a threat to others.

I am an original cosponsor of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) “Taking Action Against Drunk Drivers Act,” which would require the detention of any illegal immigrant who has been charged with a drunk driving offense.  Those with multiple convictions would be subject to expedited removal and be ineligible for legal admission to the country.  Three convictions of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated would be classified as an aggravated felony.

President Obama’s Executive Overreach

The President’s plan to suspend deportations and unilaterally grant legal status to millions of illegal immigrants has resulted in Senate Republicans crafting legislation to strengthen the enforcement of immigration law.  Executive overreach makes our country’s broken immigration system worse.  It denies the American people the chance to have a voice in the matter.

Legal challenges have underscored the President’s blatant disregard of the Constitution.  The executive attempt to rewrite immigration law ultimately ended up in court, where an injunction was issued to prevent implementation of the President’s amnesty program.  The Supreme Court recently upheld the lower court’s decision, keeping the injunction in effect.

Senate Democrats Block Measures on ‘Sanctuary Cities’

Legislation is also needed to end so-called “sanctuary cities,” where local governments simply ignore applicable immigration laws.  I have consistently supported ending these safe havens for illegal immigrants and led a past effort to deny such cities federal funds.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats blocked two amendments that would crack down on sanctuary cities.  One of them, known as “Kate’s Law,” would have established a five-year mandatory sentence for illegal immigrants who are convicted of an aggravated felony or repeatedly enter the country unlawfully.  The measure was named after Kate Steinle, who was killed by a shooter released by local police under San Francisco’s “sanctuary” policies.  The shooter had been convicted of multiple felonies and deported five times.

America’s communities should not be left vulnerable to criminals who are in our country illegally.  In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, policies to strengthen immigration enforcement and protect Americans are needed.

By U.S. Senator Rodger Wicker