After months of debate over whether to curb mandatory minimum prison sentences, Republicans are now going in the opposite direction.
A new border security bill includes mandatory minimum sentences for certain immigrants who try to re-enter the country after they’ve already been deported and for people convicted of violent crimes against judges and police officers.
The legislation includes “Kate’s law,” a measure named for Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old woman killed in 2015 by a felon who had been deported but returned to the United States. The law effectively creates a three-strike rule. Immigrants with prior aggravated felony convictions or two prior convictions for illegal re-entry would get a mandatory 5-year sentence.
President Trump repeatedly talked about Steinle during his presidential campaign as he backed policies cracking down on legal and illegal immigration.
The legislation also incorporates Cornyn’s Back the Blue Act, which creates a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence for killing a judge or federal law enforcement officer; a 10-year minimum for assault if the judge or law enforcement officer is seriously injured; a 20-year mandatory minimum if a deadly or dangerous weapon was used in the assault; and a 10-year minimum for fleeing after killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a judge or law enforcement office.
Over the last several years, momentum for eliminating mandatory sentencing laws gained steam with the backing not only of former President Barack Obama, but also from conservatives such as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Charles and David Koch, the conservative GOP mega-donors and political heavyweights.
The new legislation represents a shift in the battle over mandatory minimum sentences and criminal justice reform more broadly. Read more at The Hill.