Black Introduces the Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act
By Heather Ham-Warren | July 12, 2018
On Tuesday, Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.) introduced H.R. 6318, the Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act, which would mandate E-Verify and strengthen immigration enforcement. Unfortunately, our current immigration system is loaded with incentives and rewards for illegal immigration. Some of these pull factors include: job opportunities, public benefits, social services, mild punishments for border crossers, and the prevalence of dangerous sanctuary jurisdictions. H.R. 6318 thoughtfully addresses these issues, while recognizing that the American people are the key stakeholders in immigration policy— not illegal aliens.
Currently, when an illegal alien is apprehended for the first time, their crime is only a misdemeanor, which is similar to a traffic violation and usually amounts to a jail sentence of less than six months. For criminal aliens, this punishment hardly serves as a deterrent. Under Representative Black’s legislation, first time offenses would be reclassified as felonies to increase jail time and disincentives bad actors.
Another issue which Representative Black’s legislation tackles is sanctuary jurisdictions. Cooperation between federal, state, and local governments is the cornerstone of effective immigration enforcement. Nonetheless, law enforcement agencies, local governments, and several states across the country are or have enacted policies to restrict— or all together prohibit— cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Commonly referred to as “sanctuary policies,” such ordinances, directives, and practices undermine enforcement of U.S. immigration law by impeding state and local officials, including law enforcement officers, from asking individuals about their immigration status, reporting them to the federal government, or otherwise cooperating with or assisting federal immigration officials. These policies are dangerous, frequently resulting in the release of illegal, criminal aliens into the United States, instead of deporting them back to their home countries.
Since the murder of Kate Steinle, sanctuary jurisdictions have been a hot topic in Congress, and although efforts have been made to address them, nothing has been signed into law. The Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act would completely eliminate federal funding to any jurisdiction that fails to honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the immigration status of individuals being held by local law enforcement— forcing these jurisdictions to choose between harboring criminal aliens or receiving much needed federal funds.
Additionally, this bill permanently reauthorizes E-Verify, an electronically-based system used to determine an employee’s work eligibility, safeguard Social Security numbers, and prevent identity theft. E-Verify— which has been a congressional battle for years— benefits from strong public support. In fact, several states have already chosen to implement the program which has proven to protect American workers and lead to higher wages.
Finally, this bill also contains a “Sense of Congress” statement that a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border should be fully funded to meet the president’s request, and the entire executive branch should use every available tool to enforce immigration laws.