Karen Handel, (R-GA) introduced a bill entitled the Community Safety and Security Act of 2018 to the House of Representatives on August 31st. The bill was placed on the House schedule the following day and was sent to the floor as H.R. 6691. Requiring a simple majority vote, the bill passed by a vote of 247-152.
As might be expected with the current activity of the House of Representative, the passage generally followed party lines with 218 Republicans and 29 Democrats voting in favor of the bill, 4 Republicans and 148 Democrats voting against, and 28 abstentions equally divided between the two parties.
The unlikely-named immigration-oriented bill was introduced to amend the definition of the term “crime of violence” in the U.S. Criminal Code, largely because the term was found to be too nebulous in litigation against legal immigrants under prosecution and for whom the government is seeking deportation.
Representative Handel introduced the bill to deal with situations in which U.S. prosecutors failed to convince judges that alleged charges against lawful immigrants fell within the parameters of the broadly defined “crime of violence.” H.R. 6691 names specific offenses already commonly defined in U.S. law for which conviction on alleged criminal activity could result in the sentencing of revocation of legal residency, whether by Green Card or by naturalization, and deportation.
According to GovTrack, a 2018 Supreme Court ruled that the second clause of the definition of “crime of violence” is “unconstitutionally void for vagueness.” Some authorities have feared that the fallout from that decision could mean that “certain burglary, indecent assault and battery, stalking, and manslaughter convictions may no longer qualify as crimes of violence . . . though they are clearly dangerous crimes.”
The bill proposes adding the following terms under the umbrella of “crime of violence.”
Abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse, assault, arson, burglary, carjacking, child abuse, communication of threats, coercion, domestic violence, extortion, firearms use, fleeing, force, hostage taking, human trafficking, interference with flight crew members and attendants, kidnapping, murder, robbery, stalking, weapon of mass destruction, and voluntary manslaughter.
We cannot predict what the future will hold. However, if you are concerned that your Green Card may expire before your application for citizenship is approved, we may be able to help to eliminate your anxiety and even help move your application along more expeditiously.
The bill will now move to the Senate where it must be approved without a change in order to be forwarded to the President to sign it into law.
Civil rights activists are protesting the bill, positing it as discriminatory to legal immigrants. However, the land of the free does not mean that America is a land where one is free to do whatever one chooses, especially when it comes to crimes of violence. It would serve us well to remember that the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America includes the declaration that
“I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America . . . [and] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
We are pleased to bring regular updates to our readers and clients. As always, we welcome your input and discussions about immigration on our social media.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Justice Department announced on Thursday, May 17, 2018, that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ruled to foreclose the practice of Administrative Closure by Immigration Judges.
That ruling has raised the hue and cry from advocates and opponents to the ruling. Our purpose is to neither advocate nor oppose, but to explain what the ruling means and why it was imposed.
Most people are familiar with the term “foreclosure” associate it with a practice that lending institutions use when homeowners fall in arrears on their mortgage payments. In a more general legal sense, applicable here, foreclosure means “to hinder or prevent.” In this case, the Attorney General’s ruling prevents Immigration Judges from exercising Administrative Closure.
Administrative Closure is a procedure by which an Immigration Judge may temporarily remove low-priority cases from the court docket. Typically, a low-priority case is one in which the defendant appealing deportation has been in the United States for an extended time and has not engaged in known criminal activity. Many of the cases also involve situations where the defendant fails to appear for his or her hearing.
Administrative Closure allows the judges to focus on high-priority cases, especially those involving known criminals.
Generally, those people believe that temporarily preventing discretionary Administrative Foreclosure will, indeed, allow Immigration Judges to focus on processing the most-likely candidates for deportation. This aligns with the administration’s agenda to find and return illegal immigrant gang members and law-breakers to their homelands.
In addition, proponents believe that the failure to adjudicate a case temporarily ends up with the case never being heard at all. They believe that using Administrative Closure simply because the respondent fails to appear (which may or may not be happening) may allow some of the criminal element to remain in the U.S. illegally.
Generally, these people take one of two primary positions. The first is the claim that the administration is trying to turn the Immigration Courts into a “deportation machine.”
The other is that some believe that denying a respondent’s opportunity to move his or her hearing to a later date infringes upon the individual’s right to a speedy hearing.
There may also be some concern that this temporary foreclosure could become permanent.
It has become apparent that, because of the use of Administrative Closure, the actual number of cases requiring adjudication may be much higher than what had been reported by the previous administration because of failure to accurately report the number of cases in Administrative Closure.
The backlog of cases waiting to be heard was 212,000 at the beginning of 2006. By 2015, the backlog had increased to 437,000 cases with a median processing time of 404 days.
How this falls out remains to be seen. Attorney General Sessions is attempting to get all pending cases adjudicated. The unintended consequences may be that the backlog will, at least statistically, increase and that respondents who have no legal representation may find themselves being unwillingly exited from the United States.
The attorneys at American Corporate Services Law Offices, Inc. understand the complexities of U.S. Immigration Law and are highly skilled at ensuring that our clients are fully equipped to understand the process and prepared to succeed with their petitioning process as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are notified that you must appear before an Immigration Court, we urge you to contact our Law Offices immediately for assistance.