Congress Adds A Bunch Of Non-Violent Crimes To The Violent Crimes List
from the FOR-THE-BORDER dept
The Supreme Court said Congress needed to fix a law. So it’s trying to. And it’s not going to improve anything.
The “crime of violence” needed to necessitate the removal of a lawful permanent alien was too vague. The Court wasn’t being needlessly pedantic. All the law states at the moment is this:
The term “crime of violence” means—
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
“Involves a substantial risk” of physical force use. The justices said the law was unconstitutionally vague because it could potentially sweep up crimes that aren’t inherently violent, but could escalate if everything went Murphy’s Law.
Before holding a lawful permanent resident alien . . . subject to removal for having committed a crime, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires a judge to determine that the ordinary case of the alien’s crime of conviction involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used. But what does that mean? Just take the crime at issue in this case, California burglary, which applies to everyone from armed home intruders to door-to-door salesmen peddling shady products. How, on that vast spectrum, is anyone supposed to locate the ordinary case and say whether it includes a substantial risk of physical force? The truth is, no one knows.
The fix is in. And it’s almost worse than doing nothing. As C.J. Ciaramella reports for Reason, the proposed fix would add a bunch of crimes not normally thought of as “crimes of violence” to the list of crimes of violence.
Republicans in the House passed a bill this morning that would reclassify dozens of federal crimes as “crimes of violence,” making them deportable offenses under immigration law. Criminal justice advocacy groups say the bill, rushed to the floor without a single hearing, is unnecessary, is overbroad, and will intensify the problem of overcriminalization.
The Community Safety and Security Act of 2018, H.R. 6691, passed the House by a largely party-line vote of 247–152. Among the crimes that it would make violent offenses are burglary, fleeing, and coercion through fraud.
Burglary is normally committed when no one’s around, separating it from robbery, in which stuff is taken directly from victims, often requiring the use or threat of force. It also adds stalking, arson, “interference with flight crew members and attendants,” and “firearms use” [?] to the mix.
But the weirdest addition appears to be a bone tossed to law enforcement. From the bill [PDF]:
The term ‘fleeing’ means knowingly operating a motor vehicle and, following a law enforcement officer’s signal to bring the motor vehicle to a stop—
(A) failing or refusing to comply; or
(B) fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.
Car chases are now crimes of violence. Suspects are better off ditching the vehicle and running like they sell drugs in the school zone. Pull over immediately or get evicted from the country. It’s a weird thing to throw into a list of crimes known for their inherent violence. Then again, the list of “violent” crimes is already weird — a seeming overcorrection by Congress to expel as many “permanent” residents from the country as possible. Then there’s insertion of “conspiracy,” which makes thinking or talking about the “violent” criminal acts listed a violent crime itself.
The law was unconstitutionally vague prior to this. If this bill is passed, the problem shifts from vagueness to overbreadth. And it very likely will pass. It was rushed through the House on a party line vote, and the party controlling the House will be passing it on to a president (assuming the Senate likes the House’s idea) aligned with the controlling party — one who’s partial to legislation that makes it easier to kick out non-Americans while also rubbing the belly of the nation’s law enforcement agencies.