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Grassley speaks out on illegal alien who killed woman

From Senator Charles Grassley –

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley
Just over one year ago, Kate Steinle was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times prior to the murder. Shortly before the murder, he was released from custody for another crime despite a federal request that he be detained because local authorities choose not to cooperate with federal immigration requests. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley held a hearing shortly after Steinle’s death, where her family and those of several other victims killed by criminal immigrants called for congressional action. Last week, Grassley introduced a bill in honor of Iowan Sarah Root, who was killed earlier this year by an undocumented immigrant who was drag racing while intoxicated.

The Senate this week voted on two measures in honor of Steinle and the many others who have been injured or killed at the hands of criminals illegally in the country. Kate’s Law establishes a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for any alien who has been deported and illegally re-enters the United States who is also an aggravated felon or has been twice convicted of illegal re-entry. The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act limits the availability of certain federal dollars to cities and States that have sanctuary policies or practices. Both bills fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

Grassley’s statement in the Senate record is available below:

Prepared Statement for the Senate Record by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
One Year after the Murder of Kate Steinle, More Still Needs to be Done
July 6, 2016

Almost one year ago to the day, a young woman was walking arm in arm with her father along a pier in San Francisco. She had hopes and dreams, and a bright future ahead. But, her life was cut short when she was tragically shot, dying in her father’s arms. Her name was Kate Steinle.

The suspected killer, who was illegally in the country and deported five times prior to that day, was released into the community by a sanctuary jurisdiction that did not honor a detainer issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suspect in Kate’s death admitted that he chose to be in San Francisco because of its sanctuary policies.

Unfortunately, nothing has changed in the last year. Sanctuary cities, including San Francisco, continue to harbor people in the country illegally.

Since Kate was killed, there has been a long list of tragedies – tragedies that could have been avoided. Some that could have been avoided if sanctuary policies were not in place; some that could have been avoided if we had a more secure border and beefed-up penalties for those who enter the country illegally time and again. Allow me to mention a few of the cases I have been following:

In July, Marilyn Pharis was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in her home in Santa Maria, California, by an illegal immigrant who was released from custody because the county sheriff does not honor ICE detainers.

In July, Margaret Kostelnik was killed by an illegal immigrant who also allegedly attempted to rape a 14-year-old girl and shoot a woman in a nearby park. The suspect was released because ICE refused to issue a detainer and take custody of the suspect.

In July, a two-year old girl was brutally beaten by an illegal immigrant in San Luis Obispo County, California. He was released from local custody despite an immigration detainer and extensive criminal history, and is still at large.

In September, 17-year-old Danny Centeno-Miranda from Loudoun County, Virginia, was allegedly murdered by his peers – people in the country illegally who also had ties to the MS-13 gang — while walking near his school bus stop.

In November, Frederick County Deputy Sheriff Greg Morton was attacked by an MS-13 gang member who was in the country illegally.

In January, my constituent, Sarah Root was rear-ended and killed by a man in the country illegally who was street-racing and had a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit. Sarah graduated from college with perfect grades that very day. ICE refused to issue a detainer, and the suspect was released. He is still at large.

In February, Chelsea Hogue and Meghan Lake were hit by a drunk driver, leaving one injured and the other in a coma. The driver was in the country illegally and had previously been removed from the country five times.

In February, Stacey Aguilar was allegedly shot by a man who was in the country illegally. The suspect had also been previously convicted of a DUI.

Last month, five people were trapped by a fire and killed in a Los Angeles apartment building. The man who allegedly started the fire was in the country illegally and had been previously arrested for domestic violence and several drug charges. The man was known to immigration authorities, but he wasn’t a priority for removal and was allowed to walk free. The fire killed Jerry Dean Clemons, Mary Ann Davis, Joseph William Proenneke and Tierra Sue-Meschelle Stansberry—all my constituents from Ottumwa, Iowa.

When will this end? We can do something today by voting to proceed to S. 3100 and S. 2193.

Sanctuary policies and practices have allowed thousands of dangerous criminals to be released back into the community, and the effects have been disastrous. Even the Secretary of Homeland Security acknowledges that sanctuary cities are “counterproductive to public safety.” He has said these policies were “unacceptable.” Just last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Secretary said he wanted to see more cooperation from various counties and cities in working with immigration enforcement authorities. He said he has not been successful with Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois. And, we know that nothing has changed in San Francisco where Kate Steinle was killed.

The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, authored by Senator Toomey, addresses the problem of sanctuary jurisdictions in a common sense and balanced way. There seems to be consensus that sanctuary jurisdictions should be held accountable. So, we do that with the power of the purse. This bill limits the availability of certain federal dollars to cities and States that have sanctuary policies or practices.

The Toomey bill also provides protection for law enforcement officers who do want to cooperate and comply with detainer requests. It would address the liability issue created by recent court decisions by providing liability protection to local law enforcement who honor ICE detainers. Major law enforcement groups support this measure because it reduces the liability of officers who want to do their job and comply with immigration detainers.

Today, we’ll also vote on Kate’s law, a bill honoring Kate Steinle and many others who have been killed or injured by people who have repeatedly flouted our immigration laws. Kate’s law addresses criminals attempting to re-enter the United States, many times after we have expended the resources to remove them. The bill creates a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for any alien who has been deported and illegally re-enters the United States who is also an aggravated felon or has been twice convicted of illegal re-entry. This is necessary to take certain individuals off our streets who are dangerous to our communities, and have no respect for our laws.

This bill has broad support by law enforcement groups. It also has the support of groups that want enforcement of our immigration laws. And it has the support of the Remembrance Project, a group devoted to honoring and remembering Americans who have been killed by illegal aliens.

I would also mention that we could have the opportunity to vote on Sarah’s law if we get on either one of these bills today. Sarah’s law – which was introduced by Senators Ernst, Sasse, Fischer and myself last week – is a measure that would honor Sarah Root of Iowa. Sarah Root was a bright, talented, energetic young woman whose life was taken far too early by someone in the country illegally. ICE refused to issue a detainer on the drunk driver, and he was released from custody. Sarah Root’s family is left wondering if they’ll ever have justice for their daughter’s death.

Sarah’s Law would amend the mandatory detention provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to require the federal government to take custody of anyone who entered the country illegally, violated the terms of their immigration status, or had their visa revoked and is thereafter charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. The legislation also requires ICE to make reasonable efforts to identify and provide relevant information to the crime victims or their families. It’s important that Americans have access to information about those who have killed or seriously harmed their loved ones.

Sarah’s opportunity to make a mark on the world was cut short in part because of the reckless enforcement priorities of the Obama administration. By refusing to take custody of illegal criminal immigrants who pose a clear threat to safety, the Obama administration is putting Iowans at risk. It’s time for this administration to rethink its policies and start enforcing the law.

Today, we have the opportunity to vote to proceed to two bills to help protect Americans from criminal immigrants. For too long, we have sat by while sanctuary jurisdictions release dangerous criminals into the community to harm our citizens. It’s time we work toward protecting our communities, rather than continuing to put them in danger. And, it’s time that we institute real consequences for people who illegally enter the United States time and again.

I yield the floor.

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