Two bills due for debate in the US Senate on July 6 should be rejected. According to Human Rights Watch, the bills would undermine local and state law enforcement, and cause the country’s immigration system to become even more dysfunctional.
One of the bills in question, sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Toomey, proposes penalizing local jurisdictions financially if they fail to allow local police to become entangled with the efforts of federal immigration enforcement. The other bill, sponsored by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, intended to give harsher sentences for the illegal re-entry into the United States of previously deported, undocumented immigrants. Human Rights Watch director Antonio Ginatta says that the proposed bills would result in communities in the US becoming less safe.
Ginatta says that one of the bills would stretch the resources of federal prisons that are already overcrowded while the other would make undocumented victims of crime less likely to go the authorities. Human Rights Watch has continually documented the damage to public safety that can arise from situations where immigrants avoid law enforcement for fear of being detained and deported.
Ginatta also took aim at the Cruz bill, and described both proposals as “counterproductive”. He noted that giving mandatory minimum sentences for all undocumented immigrants attempting to re-enter the United States would prevent judges from ascertaining that many of them had no business being in prison in the first place.