As President Donald Trump rolls out plans to build a wall on the Mexican border and considers blocking refugees, Missouri lawmakers are trying again to pass a bill aimed at cracking down on deported immigrants who come back and commit crimes.
Under a proposal pitched last Thursday by 33RD District Sen. Mike Cunningham, a Republican, immigrants who are deported but come back and commit any assault or felony offense would face up to 10 years in prison for “illegal re-entry.”
The bill directs those inmates to be transferred to federal immigration authorities as soon as possible.
The proposal died in the House after passing the Senate when it was introduced last year, but Trump’s election could add momentum to such efforts in Missouri and elsewhere.
Missouri appears to be the first and only state to consider such a proposal, said Nick Bullock, spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Earlier this week, a bill moved forward in Florida’s Senate that seeks to increase sentences for crimes committed by immigrants living in the country illegally.
It proposes immigrants who commit felonies and misdemeanors face charges that are a degree higher so the sentences are harsher.
Cunningham proposed the Missouri bill last year amid frustration among some lawmakers over former Democratic president Barack Obama’s handling of immigration issues.
In arguing for the bill, Cunningham has cited Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, a Mexican national charged last year with the high-profile fatal shootings of five men in Missouri and Kansas. Cunningham called Serrano-Vitorino the “scum of the earth.”
“We’ve had some egregious crimes committed by these people,” Republican Sen. Brian Munzlinger said Thursday. “Hopefully the feds will step up so we won’t ever have to use this law. But until they do, it gives us another alternative.”
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