06.27.13

Victims' Groups Oppose Amendments Offered By Republican Senators As Having Destructive Unintended Consequences

From The Senate Judiciary Committee Majority Staff
S. 744: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
Victims’ Groups Oppose Amendments Offered by Republican Senators
As Having Destructive Unintended Consequences

During floor debate, some Republican opponents of S.744 objected to votes on 32 non-controversial amendments offered by Republican and Democratic Senators unless they received votes on a series of controversial amendments, including amendments relating to domestic violence that are strongly opposed by victims’ groups because they would chill reporting and undermine victims’ safety. 

S.744 Already Strengthens the Tough Rules Against Domestic Violence Perpetrators, Gang Members, and Drunk Drivers in Existing Law

S.744 adds harsh new immigration penalties to the already significant consequences in existing immigration law for those who commit serious crimes.  It creates a tough legalization program designed to exclude from RPI status persons who have committed crimes or pose national security concerns.  Those convicted of serious crimes, including domestic violence offenses, crimes involving moral turpitude, participation in a criminal street gang, and habitual drunk drivers, among other offenses, will not be eligible for RPI status.  All applicants must pass criminal background checks and national security screening.

S.744 already targets perpetrators of domestic violence, imposing stiff immigration penalties. The legislation creates a new ground of inadmissibility for those convicted of crimes of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect, child abandonment, or certain violations of protection orders.

S.744 already targets criminal gang members, imposing stiff immigration penalties.  The legislation makes anyone who has been convicted of a gang offense deportable.  It makes aliens convicted of a gang offense inadmissible and ineligible for RPI status.  It also makes aliens determined by DHS to have knowingly and willfully participated in a criminal street gang (since the age of 18) inadmissible and ineligible for RPI status even without a criminal conviction.  In addition, gang members who commit crimes could be deported based on their criminal records. 

S.744 already targets drunk drivers, imposing stiff new immigration penalties. The legislation makes drunk driving grounds for inadmissibility, deportability and a new aggravated felony, resulting in expedited removal from the country for anyone who receives three drunk driving convictions.

Amendments Ratcheting Up the Domestic Violence Provisions Are Opposed by Victims’ Groups Because They Would Have Harmful Unintended Consequences

The National Organization of Women, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and more than 150 local, state and national organizations have expressed their grave concerns about the unintended impact that changing the domestic violence provisions would have on women and children.  State, local and national domestic violence groups have written to Senators specifically opposing amendments Cornyn 1251, Grassley 1302, and Vitter 1330.

They note that the amendments will discourage immigrant victims from reporting abuse, and may have unintended deportation consequences for victims of domestic violence, because it is not uncommon for the victim of domestic violence – particularly if she does not speak English – to be arrested, and sometimes even convicted, because the police do not understand the real facts of the case.

The amendments related to gang-related crimes create an un-American standard of guilt by association

Some amendments offered by Republican Senators would allow an individual to be deported based on an inference that an individual is a member of a street gang, without a specific burden of proof.  This guilt by association approach would likely unfairly and disproportionally affect youth of color, immigrants living in inner-city neighborhoods, and low-income communities, and increase the use of racial profiling.

Today, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee again sought consent to allow a list
of noncontroversial amendments offered by members of both parties to be considered on the floor
in the closing hours of debate the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. 
The motion was objected to.

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