Though the teaching of history in our public education system has become more and more subjective over the years as opposed to simply teaching the facts, I do recall being taught that we were a nation built on the rule of law. There is no question that our government has expanded way beyond anything the Founding Fathers ever intended. Congress today seems to be judged based upon how much new legislation they manage to pass. More laws is not necessarily what this country needs, we cannot even manage to enforce the ones already on the books. Many of our laws are overreaching, unconstitutional and/or simply an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of the American people.
With that said, the passing of Kate’s Law by the House was an example of our representatives working in the best interest of our nation and the safety of our citizens. Opponents to Kate’s Law have cited increasing incarceration rates and the cost to taxpayers for housing those that become subject to the law and its mandatory minimums as a problem with the law. Though there is no question that we need judicial reform to find a balance and reduce the incarceration rate, accomplishing this by allowing dangerous criminals to walk freely among us is not the answer I would go with. Those that oppose Kate’s Law have put forth a narrative that illegal immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than those here legally while also claiming that Kate’s Law may increase the costs of federal prisons by 28%. Seems a bit contradictory to me.
According to DHS Secretary John Kelly, 66,000 arrests have been made since January of known or suspected illegal immigrants. Of those 66,000, 48,000 were convicted criminals (almost 73%) and many of the remaining 18,000 had pending criminal charges and/or gang affiliations. Just a thought, but if we are that concerned about the cost of the federal prison system, having more control of our borders and keeping illegals from entering the country to begin with would render the concern of increased costs due to Kate’s Law should it pass the Senate, and it likely will, a moot issue in years to come.
The House also passed the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, mostly along party lines as with the passage of Kate’s Law. This Act clarifies the detainer authority of ICE and allows the withholding of federal funds and certain grants from cities and states prohibiting officers from complying with the law and cooperating with ICE. It also allows victims of certain crimes to sue the offending jurisdiction in some cases and protects those that comply with the law from being sued.
As a firm believer in state’s rights, immigration is under federal jurisdiction and the federal government is within its rights to insist on compliance with immigration laws by all law enforcement agencies. If memory serves me right, in the mid 1980’s the federal government blackmailed the states to raise the drinking age to twenty-one by threatening to withhold highway funding (See South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987). The highway trust fund has been used on several occasions by the federal government in attempts force states into legislation with regard to issues such as speed limits, the wearing of motorcycle helmets and more recently in 2009 when Senator Chuck Schumer attempted to get a measure passed to allow withholding of highway funds to force laws regarding texting while driving. The federal government consistently over steps it bounds and the authority of states by citing the Commerce Clause and continually expanding its boundaries. This is not a commentary on the appropriateness of the legislation itself, but rather the fact that the federal government is imposing its will regarding issues that are clearly under the authority of the individual states.
The passage of Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act does not compare with the abuse of power by the federal government as described above, it simply forces compliance with existing federal law that is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. I for one, would like to see Congress spend more time repealing legislation that intrudes upon and erodes our liberties and less time enacting legislation to further diminish the freedoms we value. However, forcing rogue jurisdictions that have chosen to ignore federal laws in place to protect the sovereignty of our country and the safety of its people is one of the few things the federal government has done for a very long time that is in line with our Constitution and the reason the Founding Fathers created a federal government.