• 21 September 2018

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.