Terry McLaughlin: Are you willing to take the risk on New Way Forward Act? | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Are you willing to take the risk on New Way Forward Act?

Terry McLaughlin

Would you support a bill requiring the U.S. government to use your tax money to transport previously convicted and deported people living in the country without legal permissions back to the United States? How about one that would then release them into our communities?

Such radical and self-destructive legislation has already been proposed, called the “New Way Forward Act (HR 5383). At roughly 4,400 words, it is almost exactly as long as the U.S. Constitution, and like the Constitution, this nation-rending bill is designed to create a new country by remaking our entire immigration system, effectively decriminalizing illegal entry and allowing criminal activity to be committed within our country with impunity.

Introduced by Democratic Representatives Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (Illinois), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Karen Bass (California), and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusets) on Dec. 10, 2019, the New Way Forward Act already has 44 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, including Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York).

This legislation doesn’t just make it harder to deport people living in the country without legal permissions who commit crimes, or make it easier for criminals to legally move here. This bill would effectively abolish most, if not all, existing enforcement against illegal immigration.

This bill would effectively abolish most, if not all, existing enforcement against illegal immigration.

Under this legislation, in order to detain people living in the country without legal permissions, Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have to prove in court that the people living in the country without legal permissions are dangerous or a flight risk. But ICE would not be allowed to use a detainee’s prior criminal behavior as proof he or she is dangerous, as the bill states that “the fact that an immigrant has a prior conviction or a criminal charge pending against the immigrant may not be the sole factor to justify the continued detention of the immigrant.” In addition, “in the case that an immigration judge makes a determination to release an immigrant on bond, the immigration judge shall consider, for purposes of setting the amount of the bond, the immigrant’s financial resources and ability to pay the bond without imposing financial hardship on the immigrant.”

In other words, the people living in the country without legal permission who have engaged in criminal activity in our country could be released without bond.

ICE would have to overcome even more hurdles if the detainee claims to be gay or transgender, under 21, over 60, or has limited English language proficiency and an interpreter isn’t immediately available. This legislation would effectively make it more difficult to arrest and detain people living in the country without legal permission for committing a crime than it is to arrest you.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jesus Garcia, states that the bill will break “the prison to deportation pipeline.” How? Under current law, immigrants who commit serious crimes, such as robbery, fraud, or child sexual abuse, must be deported regardless of the length of the sentence they receive. Less severe crimes like racketeering, require deportation if the perpetrator receives at least a one-year sentence. If this bill becomes law, the minimum prison sentence for crimes that would require deportation would rise from one year to five, regardless how heinous the nature of the crime.

But even that is understating the law’s effect, as even a five-year prison sentence won’t necessarily be enough to secure deportation. The bill would grant sweeping new powers to immigration judges, allowing them to independently nullify a deportation order.

Current U.S. law states that those who have committed drug crimes abroad, or any “crimes involving moral turpitude,” are ineligible to immigrate to the United States. The New Way Forward Act abolishes those statutes. Consequently, a foreign drug cartel leader could be released from prison in another country, then come to America. He could come here illegally, and it wouldn’t be a crime — because the bill also decriminalizes illegal entry into America, even by those previously deported.

Not only does the bill decriminalize illegal entry, but it invents a new right, the “Right To Come Home.” The bill orders the government to create a “pathway for those previously deported to apply to return to their homes and families in the United States.” This could include tens of thousands of immigrants expelled from our country for manifold crimes: sexual abuse, robbery, assault, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, human trafficking. The New Way Forward Act would force you, the U.S. taxpayer, to pay for their transportation back to the United States since it directs that “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide transportation for immigrants eligible … under this section, at Government expense, to return to the United States for further immigration proceedings and shall admit or parole the immigrant into the United States.”

If you are thinking that this must be fake news, please read the text of the bill yourself by visiting http://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5383/text. Don’t just accept the analysis of TV pundits on the right or the left — evaluate the actual legislation.

It’s hard to believe any American would put these ideas on paper, much less pass this type of legislation, but 44 elected House Democrats have already put their names to this proposal. The New Way Forward Act fundamentally removes our borders, makes criminals into victims, and delegitimizes the efforts of our law enforcement officials.

The New Way Forward Act may not be likely to pass anytime soon, but are you willing to take that chance? This proposed legislation is representative of the stakes of the 2020 election — as a growing wing of the Democratic Party leadership has made clear their desire to invalidate our history, our borders, our laws, and our institutions.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.

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