What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Punishment Fitting the Crime : H.R. 1279. Crime/Vote on Amendment to Enhance Penalties for Crimes Committed by Illegal Aliens. (2005 house Roll Call 165)
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H.R. 1279. Crime/Vote on Amendment to Enhance Penalties for Crimes Committed by Illegal Aliens.
house Roll Call 165     May 11, 2005
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House approved an amendment offered by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to enhance penalties for crimes committed by illegal aliens and to list immigration violators in the National Crime Information Center Database. Goodlatte offered this amendment to H.R. 1279, a bill intended to punish and deter gang violence. Specifically, his amendment would add 5 years imprisonment to any violent-crime or drug-trafficking offense if the offender was an illegal alien, and 15 years if the alien had already been deported once and then had illegally re-entered the country. Goodlatte asserted that his amendment was necessary to deal with a gang known as "MS-13," which Newsweek had recently termed "the most violent gang in America." Goodlatte alleged that gang members who were arrested were merely deported, after which they would assume new identities and slip into the United States once again to continue their misdeeds. Thus, Goodlatte argued that they actually needed to be imprisoned in order to remove them from the streets. Taking the Progressive position, Bobby Scott (D-VA) countered that "[w]e are trying to get rid of criminals from coming into the country [sic], and what the gentleman is doing in this amendment is keeping them in the country. In other words, deporting them is not good enough. We want to keep them in our prison systems, which now house more citizens, and now, we are adding noncitizens to the population of those incarcerated in America." Maxine Waters (D-CA) agreed with Scott, noting that U.S. taxpayers would have to bear the financial cost of incarcerating these additional prisoners. In a defeat for Progressives, the House voted 266 to 198 to approve the amendment, with 51 Democrats crossing party lines to vote "yes" with Republicans. Thus, additional penalties for crimes committed by illegal aliens were added to the legislation intended to fight gang violence.

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