FAMM President Julie Stewart sharply criticized provisions in an immigration reform bill that would create or expand mandatory minimum sentences. The bill, H.R. 2278, known as the Strengthen and Fortify Enhancement Act (or SAFE Act), was approved by the House Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 20 to 15 and now heads to the full House for consideration.
“Under current law, the non-citizen felons who commit the crimes targeted by this bill would serve short prison sentences and then be sent back to their native countries,” said Julie Stewart, FAMM president and founder. “If this bill were to pass, however, American taxpayers would be forced to pay millions more in taxes to keep these non-citizens in our federal prisons longer. Of all the mandatory minimum sentences Congress could create, these are some of the dumbest we’ve seen, for taxpayers and for public safety.”
The bill’s new mandatory minimum sentences include:
- 3-, 5-, 7-, and 10-year mandatory minimum sentences for people who assist others who are entering the U.S. illegally. Which mandatory sentence applies depends on the person’s profit motive, whether serious bodily injury or death are likely or result from the violation, and if the alien who is assisted commits other crimes.
- 2-, 4-, and 10-year mandatory minimum sentences for aliens who illegally reenter the U.S. and have prior convictions for various offenses.
The bill also expands the coverage of several existing mandatory minimum sentences:
- 2- and 5-year mandatory minimums for aggravated identity theft now would apply to anyone who uses a means of identification “that is not his or her own” in the course of committing certain felonies, even if the identification does not actually belong to another person (e.g., using a made-up Social Security number).
- 5-, 7-, and 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentences would now apply to anyone who possesses, brandishes, or discharges a gun in the course of an “alien smuggling crime,” even if that gun is legally owned, purchased, and registered.
FAMM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for fair, individualized, and proportionate sentences that fit the crime and the individual while protecting public safety. Learn more at famm.org.